just call me raegen

STUPID, MEANINGLESS LIVES UNITE TO DISCUSS UNPOPULAR OPINIONS

The Bathroom Theory I’m Formulating (Assistance Requested)

Who can say for sure when it began? It’s like trying to determine the exact point at which you fell in love with someone.

English: timeline example

Or when you fell out of it. “I believe it was precisely February 26, 2009, when you began to suck.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And who can say for sure the reasons why? Like many phenomena, causality is hard to pinpoint — often multidimensional in nature.

3D

Dude, when I put on these glasses, it’s like real life, except purpler! (Photo credit: rdenubila)

One fact remains true and indisputable, though: It has been happening with greater frequency the past couple months than I’ve ever witnessed in my 3o+ years on this earth.

In fact, one of my new coworkers has now dubbed it The ::insert my last name here::-ian Theory. (And I should really let the paternal cousin who shares said last name and is also a psychologist be the one to do the hard research and claim credit for the long-yearned-for explanation, whenever that explanation is finally arrived at.)

What is this theory about which I speak? What is this horrific act I’ve been privy to not once, not twice, but often five times a week or more?

lady gaga applause

Nope, not this. Perhaps I should stop complaining now, actually…but I’m not going to. (Photo credit: rodolfomatiano)

Some person — or persons — continues to leave a sh***y and/or bloody mess in the public restroom stall, unflushed, emanating its funk, for all the female world on the second floor of the building I work at to see.

No, the toilet is not broken. Nor is it clogged.

The only conclusion I can arrive at, then, is that this person must derive some strange sort of pleasure from performing this deviant act — must get off from knowing, even without witnessing it with their own two eyes, that they’ve grossed someone out beyond comprehension via their bodily functions, donkey-punching the memory banks of the hapless and now helpless because really, you can’t unsee that.

unicorn

Which makes me wonder if I’m finally receiving some karmic retribution for posting gnarly photos of unsavory evacuations on this blog. This is my penance. (Photo credit: Totally Severe)

Now, make no mistake: lady I am not. But there are rules, man. And  they’re there for a reason.

You're entering a world of pain

This isn’t ‘Nam. This is bowling. There are rules. Mark it zero. (Photo credit: duncan)

But who — who, I say — could be doing such a thing? And why? And why more often now? Is this like a serial killer who starts “evolving” by changing the calling card on his victims or something? Have I watched too many TV shows with the letters I, S, and C in them?

David Caruso, the lead actor and one of three ...

Have you, Raegen? I would say no. Someone needs to keep my career alive. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am certain I am not alone in this observation — no, victimization. Please, share with me how you’ve coped with this behavior and come out a survivor. Because I’m seriously starting to develop a complex about entering my beloved LSR. And I’m also starting to fantasize about ways that I can catch this freak when I should be editing articles…

Make a Dream Come True

Everybody has a dream. My friend’s dream is simple: Travel to Lithuania for a year. So what’s the holdup? Her beloved family of cats, who cannot accompany her but need a good home while she’s away.

Love cats? Want to make someone’s wish come true? Please read my friend’s letter below and consider adopting her family for a year. Contact me at justcallmeraegen@gmail.com if you’re interested.

Hello, all!  Thank you for reading this.  Let me tell you a little about my situation.

I have the opportunity to leave the country for a year.  I would be embarking on a journey to Vilnius, Lithuania, where my ancestors hail from, and where a good friend of mine lives and teaches English.  I would be going to look into my ancestry, teach, write, and hopefully travel a bit.  I have wonderful people in my life who are whole-heartedly supporting me in my decision to go, but there is one enormous barrier that is holding me back from saying an emphatic YES — and that’s my cats. I am looking for someone(s) to long-term-temporarily adopt my babies for one year from October 2013 to somewhere around October 2014.  YOU WILL BE FULLY COMPENSATED.  Read on to get the details.

First, meet my mittens!  (I call cats “mittens.”)

Lucy

Lucy

Lucy is a small greyish brown tiger short hair who’s about 18 years old!  She is the mitten love of my life, and very special in that she’s the antithesis of the stereotypical “aloof, sneaky, don’t-pet-me cat.”  She is a LOVE, and wants to be on you (or at the very least right next to you), pet by you, loved on by you, and be let in under the covers when it’s sleepy time (if you want — she takes cues when you don’t want her on you/ under the covers, etc.).  She has almost no voice, so she’ll look at you and meow — but it comes out as a whisper, or as a little “meep!”  It’s hilarious.  But she’ll do that any time you come into the room, especially after a long day: look at you, “meow,” and drop and roll around so you can mush on her belly.  Ridiculous love.  Lucy loves a good brushing, isn’t timid, and is even pretty chill with dogs and other animals in general (when she was young she lived with other cats, two big dogs, and her own kittens).  Lucy is definitely older, and I particularly can tell because she’s a bit skinnier, and she may try to throw up a hairball but she can’t (sorry, but it’s true—better to know all the facts now) — however, she still loves to play and I’ll find a suspicious toy or two left on the bed…evidence of Lucy shenanigans!  Lucy’s purr is loud and on ALL THE TIME.

Stella

Stella

Shortly after I first adopted Lucy, because she spent her entire life with other animals, I rescued her a kitten.  Stella (that kitten) is a big fluffy grey longhaired character, who’s about 13 years old.  She is the curious one, and maybe the least bright (but don’t tell her I said that), in that she loves new people and is curious about other animals so she runs up to you/them, but then skits away all crazy-cat-like — but then comes right back up for some loving.  She also wants to hang around you and get loved on, but she’s not one to sit on you (although if you put her on you, she’ll sigh and let you love on her for a minute).  She loves her belly pet and will roll over for you to do so, and she likes the brush.  She is the big eater of the family and knows — even from across two large rooms — when you are eating a peach, or strawberries.  She will meow at you until you give her a little nibble, which I do in small amounts.  It’s weird, but she’s weird — in a fabulous way, of course.  I sometimes shave Stella in the summer — mostly because she gets dreadlocks and her coat is so thick.  Stella and Lucy are family — they sleep together, play together, mush on each other, groom each other.  They cannot be separated, and I would never put them in a position where they would be.

Jamesbaldwin

Jamesbaldwin

Stella (more so than Lucy) is friends with Jamesbaldwin.  Jamesbaldwin (not James, but Jamesbaldwin-one-word) is a big black fluffy fancypants boy who’s about 5 years old.  My x-partner and I adopted him out of a parking lot as an older-kitten, where we found him with a broken tail and the most pitiful high-pitched “meep!” you’ve ever done heard.  It took a bit of time, but soon he was a rambunctious love-boy.  He and Stella got along right away (and they chase each other like crazy mittens, and yes — sometimes hiss and swing at each other as siblings are wont to do), and he and Lucy tolerate each other.  I have seen evidence of love, however — Lucy giving Jamesbaldwin a little lick!  And he and Stella sometimes groom each other as well.  Jamesbaldwin could potentially be separated from the girls…but if someone is willing to take all three, that would be my ideal.  Jamesbaldwin is a shy boy at first and will come up to you and sort of stretch out his front paws, but then shy away when you initially go to pet him — he still even does this with me, sometimes.  But sooner rather than later, he will purr his quiet purr and bonk his forehead on your knee or wherever and demand to be let onto your lap where is the sweetest boy ever.  He is the softest of the three and LOVES the brush. Jamesbaldwin is the quintessential cat-in-a-box boy.  He loves that cardboard!  All three love plenty of scratching posts as well.

Please look at the pictures.  If you’ve gotten through this much writing about cats, then you should at least look at how damn CUTE they are.

Bam!

Bam! Instant cuteness!

THE MITTENS ARE INSIDE CREATURES!  In the desert where I’m from (Tucson, AZ), I would let them wander around the yard a bit (and they would stay close), but here (Durham, NC) I haven’t let them out at all — mostly because of ticks, fleas, and poison ivy (this was recommended to me).  Jamesbaldwin could potentially be an inside/outside mitten if he were to be temporarily adopted without the other two. None of them go to the vet for regular checkups — they only go if there is something wrong.  I will take Lucy to the vet before I leave the country just because she is so much older, and I just want to make sure she’s all good.  All three cats have current shots and etc., and I have paperwork for all of them.  I don’t have a regular vet here, but I have all the information for the places I’ve gone.  I go through food and litter about once every six weeks, and all three use the same litter box.  If I had more room, I might use two.  There’s water all over the place and I notice that I have to really keep an eye on it, those thirsty mitts!

I WANT YOU TO FORM YOUR OWN RELATIONSHIP WITH THESE MITTENS.  Meaning, there is a standard of care that I want to be sure is given, but your style may be completely different from mine, and that’s perfectly fine and expected.  As long as they are loved and cared for, I’m grateful, and I bet they are too.

I WILL COMPENSATE YOU.  I will pay for all food and litter UP FRONT as well as part of the other chunk of money that I’m able to give to the amazing awesome someone(s) who will take care of the mitts.  Potential vet costs will be taken care of…and when I have a better plan for how that should go down, we’ll talk!  I am paying $100 a month above the food, litter, and potential vet costs.  If I’m gone for the entire year as planned, that will be $1200 plus about $35 a month for food and litter = about $1620 for taking my babies for a year.  I am willing to round up to $1700, but I am simply not able to do any more than that.  Half of this money will be paid up front and the other half will be given upon my return.  If a vet emergency does arise, you will have all of my contact information (plus I’ll be contacting you anyway) so you will have the funds to take care of that emergency.  We will, of course, talk about this and everything else once someone(s) takes this on.  I WILL BE UTTERLY GRATEFUL for this long-term mitten-sitting.  I want to be able to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey with peace of mind that my family is being well loved.

Finally, I WANT MY MITTENS BACK!  I know that a year is a long time, and bonds will be formed, but I will want all three cats back.  If something arises and we decide together that maybe you would want to adopt one for keeps or something, we can talk about that when I get back.  My intention is to scoop them all up again when I land back here.

Please contact ASAP if you’re interested!  Technically, I have until October to find a home, but I have to give my final word to my boss in Lithuania by the middle of June: justcallmeraegen@gmail.com

Thank you so very much for considering.

IMG_6550

Perhaps the Lamest Lit Mag Story You’ll Ever Hear

A few months back, it came to my attention — by no actual assistance on his part, mind you — that my colleague, Mr. Fiction of at Least Two+ Years Now himself, Brandon Davis Jennings, tagged-but-not-reallied me in a blog about his latest accepted work, “Smells of Couch,” that would be appearing in Lake Effect, a terrific literary magazine that some of our mutual peeps have worked on at various points in their careers.

I had a response to this tag even back then — one far more intriguing than my actual work will be to most, sadly — but I was holding out for what seemed to be an impossible happy ending  to it.

English: A "massage parlor" in Daye ...

Not that kind, you pervs! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, my friends, that happy ending has actually arrived despite my cynicism, so I now share with you the story of my most recent publication — which incidentally happened three years ago but just last month. It’s like two of my poems starred in Back to the Future, but without Marty McFly, Doc Brown, a DeLorean, or anything else even remotely cool.

This is probably going to sound crazy — then again, it’s me talking here, so what doesn’t? — but I’m completely erratic when it comes to submitting work. As in, I will have poems all dressed up for the occasion, just hanging out, chatting around the punch bowl, glancing at all the happy poems living it up on the dance floor because they just got called to publication, and I will let my poems wonder who will ask them to dance for years on end because my lazy tuchus just won’t bother taking three consecutive days out of my life to research a serious number of lit mags, figure out their submission requirements, put stupid addresses in the top right-hand corner of only a third of the poems I plan to send out, save separate files because of this inordinately stupid rule, print pages upon pages out, run out of ink, go to the store to get a new cartridge, print annoying test pages, start printing again, remember I have super-special extra files with the darn addresses at the tops of the pages, throw half of what I printed out away, print some more, wonder where I put my envelopes to send these pages out in, remember I forgot to buy envelopes, go buy envelopes, address the envelopes, take the envelopes to the post office, and send my poems on their merry way.

Nothing matters when we're dancing

My poems are standing right in that left-hand corner behind the guy in the khaki pants and — oh, never mind. (Photo credit: Librarian Avenger)

Because sending out to, say, 20 or 30 literary magazines at one time seemed the only thing worth going to that amount of trouble for, and it would generally take me three days of doing nothing but just that to accomplish this goal, since graduating as an M.F.A. (motherf***ing a**hole), I have only sent a single batch of submissions out in the following years: 2009, 2012.

I admit this is lame, especially considering I was still working on my writing the whole time in some way, shape or form. But while I was sure there was an easier way to do this submission thing, I hadn’t found it — that is, until last year, when I discovered I was right: there is an easier way to do the whole submission thing, and it’s called the Internet. I wrapped up what used to be a three-day process in three hours, folks, thanks to online submission tools. If that’s not a plug for technology, I don’t know what is.

Plug

Well, except this, of course. (Photo credit: Samuel M. Livingston)

But I digress — mucho much. I’m still waiting to hear back on some things I sent out in 2012; fellow writers know the longer the wait, the better the news, generally, and luckily, I haven’t gotten shot down by everyone I sent out to last year (at least not yet).

But the story of my most recent publication actually has nothing to do with this. Cast your mind back to 2009, when I do one of my bulk mailings to the literary masses. I pack lunches, zip up coats, send my children off, then sit back and wait. Come February 2010, I hear from a particular publication that will go unnamed here (because, although they should be put out of business — or at the very least publicly stoned — for what they did to me and several other writers whose work they accepted not just in 2010 but in 2011 and 2012 as well, I don’t care to get into trouble over something they’re to blame for). Publication of Evil asks to print two of my poems (which I will tell you a little more about as Brandon told you about “Smells of Couch” because that’s part of the whole “being tagged” thingy), and I happily send my permission to publish in exchange for the standard two contributors’ copies we people who actually do this for the love of it receive as payment.

Spanish dictionary pages up into the air

If pages ever become our currency, I’ll be a millionaire, I tell ya! (Photo credit: Horia Varlan)

I wait a year. Heck, I wait more than a year. I even move in the meantime. I send my new address. Still, no contributors’ copies.

Of course, it’s mighty hard to be sent contributors’ copies when actual copies haven’t even been printed yet — as was the case in 2010, 2011, and, yes, even 2012.

If you know anything about me IRL, you’ll know that this is something I was not about to take lying down. I raised hell with the editor. It went nowhere. Publication of Evil actually had a website this whole time, on which hapless contributors like myself were posting comments expressing their mutual dissatisfaction with the literary magazine. I took screen shots of said comments and sent them to the editor’s boss. Still, it went nowhere. I contacted AWP. I didn’t even know if that would work, and presumably, it didn’t, since I never heard anything from them. But hey, you gotta give a girl kudos for trying.

I’d considered pulling my permission to publish; it wasn’t looking like they were going to bother printing anyway, and I wanted the work to see the light of day. I’d considered submitting the poems elsewhere without revoking permission and letting the chips fall where they may, but I didn’t want to make Publication of Evil’s problem anyone else’s in the event they actually did go to print sometime this century.

Printing Press

Tell me, what is this thing you call “printing press”? (Photo credit: chrissam42)

Admittedly, though, I’d lost hope. Progress seemed impossible. And so, every once in awhile, just to remind myself I needed to figure out some way to exact revenge on behalf of myself and the other writers who were screwed by Publication of Evil, I would visit their website. That’s when I discovered some interesting information.

God, that was a good movie.

Don’t cross them off that hit list just yet, Buscemi!

This January, all the bad press was removed from the site; the irate comments were nowhere to be found, and all contributors were assured in an extra-special online letter that back issues were being published.

I felt like leaving a new comment saying, “Yeah, I’ve heard that one before — exactly 8 times; see attached emails,” but I decided against it.

Instead, I checked Amazon. Yup, just as I thought: a big donut.

But, still dwelling on the great injustice that had been done, I knew I had to keep checking. Someone had to hold these shysters accountable for their nonsense in some way (though I hadn’t figured out how yet) — especially since they’d scrubbed their site of all the warnings writers were giving others about this publication.

I continued to check the site — still scrubbed. I continued to check Amazon — still a donut.

Launch Donuts @ FlickrHQ

And not even the delicious kind. Sadface. (Photo credit: pkingDesign)

That is, until a few weeks ago. And what to my wondering eyes did appear on this magical day? Yes, my friends: the 2010 volume of Publication of Evil. Believe it or not, more than three frickin’ years later, they finally published it.

But since I’m guessing it might take at least another three years to get my contributors’ copies, I ordered one from Amazon straightaway. And here it sits, right next to me now, with my two poems in it.

And sure, they messed up the formatting on one of them, but did you really not see that coming?

Dual Purpose Plunger

Bam! Gotcha! (Photo credit: swirlspice)

What you may not have guessed, though, is what was in the editor’s letter. In a pathetic last-ditch attempt to make himself look even remotely professional, Publication of Evil’s editor wrote a brilliant note detailing the steps it takes to put a lit mag together. It seems he must have forgotten that, oh, 90% of us have actually worked on lit mags ourselves, know all these steps, and still got our publications out in a timely fashion when we worked on them. But thanks for playing. Your consolation prize is waiting for you backstage; it’s the one that’s ticking.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. It was ridic, but it happened, and may it never happen to you.

SPRAY

Spray this liberally on every submission you send out to prevent idiocy. (Photo credit: Matthew Burpee)

Now let’s get on with answering these questions, shall we?

What are the titles of your poems, and where will they appear?

Um, pass.

Where did the idea for these poems come from?

Well, quite literally my past. I wrote one after a visit to the neighborhood I grew up in, and it’s about that and what’s happened in my life since. It sets the stage for the other, which is what I like to call a Frankenpoem. This particular Frankenpoem features three completely separate and previously unrelated drafts from the past edited and stitched together via some new material.

Frankenstein

Errrgghh… Me no read poems… (Photo credit: twm1340)

What genre do your poems fall under?

We M.F.A.s hate the word “genre.” That being said, my work is feminist and what I consider to be confessional, though I’m not quite sure how much of the “official” confessional tradition (e.g., Plath, Sexton, etc.) it follows.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

If my entire poetry manuscript, once finished, were to become a movie, Jennifer Jason Leigh could play me; Single White Female proves she’s got what it takes to instill the appropriate amount of terror. Barbra Streisand could play my mom (because my mom loves her anyway). Robert Duvall could play my dad, since Space Ghost — who most resembles my father, at least in the chin — is animated. Ray Wise could play my former stepdad because they resemble each other. Plus, Ray Wise always plays villains, so that helps.

Skeet Ulrich has to play at least one of my ex-boyfriends, but it might actually be cool to get him to just play them all, except with different hair colors and disguises; it’d be an artistic statement that way.

From left to right; Stu Macher (Matthew Lillar...

We’d like that! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your poems?

Well, considering one poem was actually parts of four poems, quite a few years. I’d say just shy of a decade for that one, if I go back and date the earliest draft of one part.

What books would you compare these poems to?

Probably Satan Says by Sharon Olds, if you think about those opening poems in particular. Maybe Marie Howe’s What the Living Do, though I’m more indirect than Howe. And a bit of Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, if you take the mythological element into consideration.

What else about your poems might pique the reader’s interest?

The Frankenpoem is one of the poems I feel I was meant to write — as in, there are certain things I feel a deep need to say as a writer because if I don’t, I’m not sure there’s any point to my writing at all. I believe writing should be about risk in some way, shape or form; otherwise, it’s just something that’s been done before. I want to see the world in a new way when I read literature, so that’s what I aim to achieve in my own work.

DSCN9674_1_72 - Abstract Art

Real-life portrayal of I don’t know what. (Photo credit: bterrycompton)

The Frankenpoem is the first in what will hopefully be many poems to get picked up for publication that give voice to subjects the women in my family and women everywhere, including me, have kept their silence on for so many years. This is my reason for continuing to work on the manuscript that this poem will go into, and I can only hope that one day, the whole book will reach you.

A Birthday Interview

Well, it’s official: Raegen has achieved her super-secret goal of writing a blog a week for one year, starting on her birthday weekend last year. So, to commemorate the occasion — and the fact that she exists and such — her mother will now provide insight into the enigma that is Raegen.

Who is this Raegen character, anyway?

MOM: She’s my baby. She’s my daughter. She’s my first born. In fact, she tried to murder my second born.

English: Pillow Português: Travesseiro

The pillow: Raegen’s weapon of choice. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, other than homicidal, what was she like as a kid?

MOM: She was playful, good-tempered, ate everything I ever put in front of her. She was a good little girl.

So, what happened?

MOM: I don’t know. She got introverted. I don’t know what happened.

Was it her friends? Did she hang out with the wrong crowd?

MOM: I don’t think so. From what I recall, she wasn’t that sociable. She was a bookworm, and she had friends that had the same interests. She was in tap dancing, gymnastics, cheerleading and poms when she was young. Later on, she became artistic, creative. She was always writing stories, making up stories.

Cover of the 2001 CD reissue

You callin’ me a liar? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, you’re calling her a liar. What were some of the crazy fads she went through?

MOM: Anti-vegetables. Anti-meat. Anti-bathing. She loved to swim when she was young; she just didn’t like to bathe afterward.

You could consider her a visionary, actually, because there’s a whole movement around those things now, you know — at least vegetarianism and anti-bathing. Just sayin’. Anyway, what was her love life like?

MOM: I think she had numerous crushes until she went to work at Cold Stone and met her first boyfriend, A.

Cold Stone Creamery cones in a cup

Ice cream + high school = love (Photo credit: javajoba)

Did you like A?

MOM: I liked A very much.

Just none of the other ones?

MOM: Well, I liked F until I found out how tortured she was with his nonsense. It was much later in life when I found out. And then there was her big crush — her secret fantasy about J that ended up coming true, and that ended up being a disaster.

Careful what you wish for.

Psycho Shower Scene

Norman, listen to your mother! (Photo credit: Coco Mault)

MOM: Yes, exactly. It pained me very much because he came between her and her sister, K, who always had a great relationship — well, until he came into the picture.

How did she come to find Jesus?

MOM: Working at her old employer’s. He was a janitor there, and somebody asked her if she’d be interested in going out with him, and she said, “Not unless he asks me himself,” which he eventually did. The rest is history. My baby found Jesus.

Who are Raegen’s heroes?

MOM: She-Ra. One of her professors — Larissa. Probably the Dalai Lama and Buddha. I could probably safely say that one or two of her heroes are really heroines — not the kind that you inject into your system, but poets, writers.

Heroin!

Sure, lady — whatever you say. (Photo credit: michelle.irish)

What are some of your fondest memories of Raegen?

MOM: My proudest moments of Raegen were her graduating from college and then going on to get her master’s degree. My daughter is extremely intelligent — to the point where she intimidated her stepfather. He knew she was smarter than he was.

No, lady, this interview’s about Raegen, not K.

MOM: Most of what I would say are fondest are actually comical. The first one would have to be when she tried to kill her baby sister. The second one — actually, I think the one before that was when I was trying to record K’s first words, and she said, “Come on! Get on!” And I remember Raegen impressing me one time when we were at her grandmother’s house, and she went through the deck of cards and knew every card in the deck. And I remember when Raegie read to me for the first time: “Christmas isn’t just presents; Christmas is love.”

What was that from?

MOM: That was from a book she had; I can’t remember the name of it, but it was obviously a Christmas book.

Christmas books

Yeah, that really narrows it down. (Photo credit: dianecordell)

What are some of Raegen’s pet peeves?

MOM: Stupid people. Dealing with ignorant, just plain stupid people.

So what are the qualities that she values in people?

MOM: Intelligence, diligence, honesty, people who pull their own weight, people who give credit where credit’s due instead of taking credit for other people’s accomplishments, loyalty.

What would you say was Raegen’s biggest mistake in life up to this point?

MOM: Probably pursuing J.

Me on Jeopardy

Ding, ding, ding! That’s correct! Well, it’s in the top three, anyway. (Photo credit: condour)

When people look back at Raegen’s life, what do you think they’re going to say?

MOM: That Raegen was probably the smartest person in our family.

That doesn’t seem like it’s saying much, though.

(Editor’s note: The opinions of the interviewer and those held by Raegen are not necessarily one and the same.)

What do you think her friends are going to say?

MOM: Her friends probably know sides of her that her mother doesn’t know. They probably would say that she’s their favorite pervert; she has a sick sense of humor; and that’s she’s a very honest, no-holds-barred, loyal friend.

What do you think the rest of Raegen’s life is going to bring?

MOM: Certainly more accomplishments as far as her creative self — publishing more of her works of poetry and hopefully some other books. Marriage and children. Family. Happiness. That’s what I hope for her, anyway.

Baby Doll

Editor’s note: Raegen’s mother sadly remains in a state of denial over the fact that Raegen does not want children. (Photo credit: dog.happy.art)

Did this Raegen kid turn out the way you thought she would?

MOM: Ehhh… I don’t know.

Best. Answer. Ever.

MOM: I’m very proud of the person that she’s turned out to be, but I never would have thought that she’d be the person today that she was when she was a little girl.

IMG_5803

Why do moms always think their kids will turn out to be beautiful butterflies? (Photo credit: manofsea)

Why is that? What’s so different?

MOM: As a child, she seemed to have been very concerned with making other people happy, doing things to please, and now she’s grown into…

A selfish b****?

MOM: She’s more focused on making her own happiness, and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I think she’s a person that puts herself first as far as her own health, well-being, and making her own happiness, and if it means cutting herself off from someone or something in the past, I don’t think she has any qualms about doing it.

Very good. Pretty painless.

MOM: Was it painless for you?

Yeah. That s***’s hilarious!

Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo

So is this. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Careful the Company You Keep

When my second cousin was about 3, her mother would scare her into sticking close by by shouting, “Bad people! Bad people!” whenever she’d wander off too far.

bad people

Totally unrelated, but has anyone else noticed how gas has gone up 80 cents in the past two months? (Photo credit: brand0con)

Admittedly, the quality of parenting represented by this statement is questionable. Still, I have to admit that, beyond just being frickin’ hilarious, it got the job done; little M always returned to her mother’s side when she heard this.

I hope M will someday know — in less scary ways, of course — how important it is to choose the company you keep wisely, for this is a lesson everybody is truly well served by. Without going into too much detail about the specifics of why this topic is on my mind to protect the parties involved, I was reminded once again recently of the power that the company one keeps can truly wield over a person.

big stick

Oh, yeah — wield that big stick, Billy! (Photo credit: uzi978)

I remember very distinctly the turning point in my relationship with the two people I’m thinking of specifically while writing this blog. One I never liked; we’ll call this person X. Sometimes you just meet people and know right away there’s just going to be a clash. It’s nobody’s fault; your personalities and values may just be too different, and perhaps you sense or experience a lack of respect for what you believe or represent. When that happens and you know your path and this person’s will cross again, pretty much the best you can do is hope for civility — which you may or may not give or receive.

The other — let’s call this person Y — well, that person’s just young. I always felt the — there’s no great way to say this — immaturity of Y’s mentality (exacerbated by the fact that Y always claimed to be very mature for Y’s age). And given how immature I am, that doesn’t speak too highly for Y. Still, I rarely begrudged Y for that mentality because I guess I felt I’d sort of been there, done that, and at one point, I genuinely hoped to help Y avoid some of the burning buildings I saw Y rushing toward.

fire - onlookers

Don’t get sucked in by the light, little moth! (Photo credit: Daveybot)

One October, my relationship with both X and Y took a turn for the worst. It seemed as if Y felt torn, like Anakin Skywalker, between the Jedi and the Dark Side. You can decide which category you’d like me to represent in this equation, but long story short, Y felt — for some reason that will likely never be known to me — that Y had to choose between me and X, and the choice Y made was X.

Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker in Reve...

I regret turning to the Dark Side almost as much as I regret this hairstyle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Frankly, I wasn’t surprised. Disappointed, yes, but mostly just confused by the whole thing — and the lack of explanation accompanying it. Good thing I had a brain cell or two left (at least at the time) to figure it out for myself.

But here’s the thing: Once I got past the inconsideration of the whole episode and the fact that, in this particular situation, it would not have behooved any of the parties involved to have a conversation about the incident that might’ve cleared the air, I started thinking about the effects Y’s choice would have on Y’s life. Now, I’m not Y’s keeper, and it’s not my responsibility, but still, Y is young, and I suspected that one day — maybe not right away, but at some point down the road — this decision would cost Y something very valuable that Y may not even realize is valuable to Y…yet.

And so it seems it has happened.

I don’t think Y realizes it on a conscious level at this point, but all the negativity, gossiping, and general Debbie-Downering Y has been doing with X ever since I exited the scene (I was the one who always put the kibosh on that shiz) has led Y to make a major life decision that I suspect — based on the waterworks, anxiety, etc., that accompanied the announcement of the major life decision — Y already subconsciously regrets. I believe, with all the conspiring and, again, just straight-up negative jibber-jabber that X and Y were doing, Y lost sight of what really matters to Y as an individual, not just someone who needs to feel like part of the “cool” (if by “cool,” one of course means “alienating others with different views in order to bond”) crowd. Y made a decision not for Y’s own legitimate reasons, but because Y got sucked into the Vortex of Stupid. And I fear Y is going to be finding out very soon — the hard way — just what the price of that is.

This picture from a NASA study on wingtip vort...

It looked good at the time, but… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, don’t get me wrong: I am not blaming X for Y’s life decisions. No matter how naive or immature Y may be, Y must still be accountable for Y’s choices. And Y will undoubtedly learn much from this experience — but what a price to pay — if I’m right about it. Not that I hope I’m right about it. In fact, I hope things somehow do work out for Y. It’s just hard for me to see how that’s going to happen, given what details I know of the circumstance.

Anyway, it reminds me of this insightful tidbit from a longer piece that is generally attributed to Colin Powell but for which other origins have been claimed: “The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate — for the good and the bad. … If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights.”

I myself had to learn the hard way just how costly surrounding myself with the wolves could be. The wrong company leeches into your system like poison; don’t drink that Kool-Aid, man!

Kool-Aid Man

The Kool-Aid Man seems like your friend…but is he? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the immortal words of Rushmore, “With friends like (that), who needs friends?”

This brings me to the following poem, which to me represents the natural conclusion to my own trials and tribulations with the wrong crowd: Sometimes it’s best to just be on your own, even if you’re lonely; to wait for worthy company that can help you soar manifest itself in your life instead of settling for less.

“Samurai Song” by Robert Pinsky

When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had
No supper my eyes dined.

When I had no eyes I listened.
When I had no ears I thought.
When I had no thought I waited.

When I had no father I made
Care my father. When I had
No mother I embraced order.

When I had no friend I made
Quiet my friend. When I had no
Enemy I opposed my body.

When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have
No priest, my tongue is my choir.

When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.

How Do Non-parents Make Friends as Adults?

Last weekend put me on the East Coast, in the middle of one of those artsy-fartsy restaurants New York City specifically is known for. A group of about 30 people had gathered there to celebrate Jesus’ nephew’s coming.

Jesus Christ Lamb Mormon

What’s up, kid? Get it — kid! (Photo credit: More Good Foundation)

Well, baptism, technically, but you get what I mean.

After three hours — yeah, I kid you not, three frickin’ hours (and not in that French way where everybody sits there for eons because it’s the European way to do shiz) — people finally started gathering their things to leave for the evening, because I’m pretty sure I recall things correctly when I say the sun was already starting to set by then, the whole meal took so long. But that is another story.

French-Cafe-Patio

Let us seet ere for ouwers, Jean-Luc, and deescuss zee dumb Americains. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The core party, of which I was a member, was naturally last to leave. We gathered up the gifts and such, piled on the layers (as it was an awesome-in-the-most-sarcastic-sense-possible 30ish degrees out), and were just about to leave when the new baby mommy (that’s Jesus’ sister) noticed a couple nearby who also had a baby. She struck up a conversation with them about parenthood (duh), and eventually, they exchanged contact information.

Wha-wha-what? What is this that I just witnessed?

Black Magic

Baby black magic! (Photo credit: ihave3kids)

Total strangers breaking down the traditional social barriers to potentially become friends — and all because of a baby.

Now, this type of behavior is nothing new. You may have even witnessed it yourself IRL at some point. This just happened to be my first time, but it really got me thinking.

See, I don’t plan to have kids. Nothing against them, I suppose; I just have too much I want to accomplish in my own life, and I know myself well enough to know that, since I’m the type of person who gives pretty much everything I take on my 110 percent, there’s only so much I’m going to be able to take on without sacrificing other things that are really important to me — and that, I’m really not willing to do.

For one. I have a myriad other reasons I don’t want kids, and those of you who know me already know many of them. The above is probably the most important one, though.

But…moving on.

English: Example of a shocker. Personal photo,...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s no shocker that, as people get older, it can become harder to meet people and build genuine friendships. I say “can become” because clearly, some people have little problem with this — as evidenced by Jesus’ sister.

But this is where things get interesting for me, because she would’ve never talked to them — nor them to her — if they both weren’t babied up.

So where does that leave the unbabied in this realm of building relationships in adulthood? Do we just get dogs, go to a dog park, and hope for the best? What if we don’t want dogs, either? Then what?

Seriously, though, who wouldn't want this dog?

Who wouldn’t want this dog, though? For real.

I started thinking about this really seriously, and the only conclusion I could come to is, we’d all need to start wearing badges with our interests printed on them. I mean, they could be cool badges — pieces of flair, if you will — but there still needs to be some sensory-gripping mechanism that grabs the attention of like-minded unbabied people and serves to connect them with each other.

Because we’re not talking the Internet, people. We’re talking about real people, people. Those people in your grocery store, the restaurant down the street, the movie theater, the parking garage, the dark alley…

English: Buick Electra in a dark alley in Istanbul

I’m happy to be your friend, little girl… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Never had I felt at such a disadvantage by being a non-mama. Granted, this one drawback to me does not come close to touching the many benefits of not having children, but it is noticeable and, at least to me, somewhat disturbing.

Mentorship

Awhile back, I met a friend’s coworker; this coworker happened to be a creative writing major like myself. The friend had been, like, super-excited to finally connect us — the idea being that I, writing both creatively and professionally — would somehow be able to impart some wisdom or inspiration upon this person who, younger than me, had gotten a job, but one that was nowhere even remotely close to a writing gig.

 

Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, from The Wond...

We are definitely not at University of Iowa anymore, Dorothy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, there were a few things wrong with this picture from the get-go:

 

  1. My dear friend, while meaning well, had expectations that were almost guaranteed to implode into a black hole of doom.
  2. Millennial — need I say more?
  3. Did this coworker even want a writing job?

Although you’ve probably already guessed it, allow me to confirm that our meeting each other did not go well. I mean, it wasn’t a knock-down throw-out or anything — other people were present, after all — but it was rather awkward.

English: The Bennett Sisters

Catfight! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For one, I got the sense that this person was rather — well, for lack of a better term, I suppose — shallow. The conversation somehow got onto the topic of workplace gossip — she an advocate, because she thinks it’s “how females in an office bond”; me a stern rejector of this behavior for countless reasons, not to mention the fact that I was appalled on a feminist level by the statement.

 

Perhaps we just got off on the wrong foot with that.

 

But what’s kind of strange is that before this, I was having a conversation with someone among the group who’d studied literature. That was good times — probably two hours’ worth. I noticed, however, that gossipy coworker never once joined in.

Novels in a Polish bookstore

Books. Meh. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, perhaps she’s the type that doesn’t join into conversations others are having readily…though I have to admit I’d find that difficult to believe, being that she’s predisposed to office-cooler talk.

 

Which brings me to the other conclusion: she just plain didn’t care. About literature or about writing.

 

Afterwards, I got the “So, what’d you think of my coworker?” question from my friend.

 

“Well, I’m not really sure she wants to be a writer. I mean, I know that’s what her degree’s in and all, but not everybody’s serious about it.”

 

“But isn’t it a waste of her degree to be doing XYZ job instead of a writing job like you? I just thought if you could talk to her about it — mentor her or something — she might be more inclined to pursue it.”

 

Hmm.

Description unavailable

This is about to get all Single White Female on me, isn’t it? (Photo credit: muckster)

True or not, I’m never going to have that talk with her. And it’s not even because I’m not particularly fond of her; I’ve known plenty of fellow writers I haven’t adored and who haven’t dug me, either, but there’s usually still been a level of professional respect, and we’ve helped each other out nevertheless.

 

No, the reasons I’m not going to try to mentor this person are actually much simpler than that:

 

  1. It’s kinda not my responsibility, and
  2. I’m fairly certain she’s not interested.

Now, my friend isn’t a meddler, though perhaps an assumer. My friend has nothing but the best intentions here. And I’ve been very blessed and fortunate to have had quite a few mentors in my life who’ve made remarkable differences in it, so I understand how essential mentorship can be to living up to one’s full potential. But mentorship, like any other relationship, is quite simple: both parties have to be interested. And in this case, neither are.

Two girls

Besties? Meh. (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

This question of responsibility to one another, though, somewhat complicates this matter, and that’s why I’m writing this blog. See, when you really think about it, everyone is always looking for something — “interested,” in other words. And I’m of the spiritual belief that everybody’s here to give something to the world as well.

 

It’s good to be aware of when you’re not the right person to give another that thing you know they’re looking for.

 

But I wonder, is there any way that we can be the living example to those who seem blind to it? Should this even be something we strive toward?

 

My Recent Aha Moment

So, at a farewell dinner a couple weeks ago for a former creative writing friend (all the way back from my undergrad days, so he got to read the supremely crappy stuff as opposed to just mildly crappy), the subject of this blog came up.

He said, “I’ve been reading your blog…”

(Someone actually reads this thing? Score!)

“…and it’s hilarious…”

(Someone actually thinks it’s funny? Score!)

“…but…”

(This was too good to be true. I just knew there had to be a “but.”)

Go, go, go, shorty!

Come on, you knew this was coming… (Photo credit: kandyjaxx)

“…I just feel like there’s something more you can do with it or get out of it for yourself career-wise.”

Hmm.

Well…that didn’t go exactly where I thought it was going, but that’s probably for the best.

FIRE!

Because I thought it was going here. (Photo credit: Gregory Jordan)

As it turns out, this was nothing I hadn’t already been thinking of; I’ve been torn between the personal and professional for a while now. In fact, I’ve been asking Jesus for the answers. Unfortunately — or fortunately — Jesus has more balls than me and, were he in my shoes, he would’ve already connected this blog in some way to his resume and/or professional website. Hence, why he is one of my heroes.

But alas, that’s just not me. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve pretty much always been a private person. Maybe it’s the fact that I think there should be some standards to which people (myself included) are held to somewhere nowadays. Or maybe it’s just the fact that, from time to time, I need to be able to vent to my peeps about douchebags who suck — some of whom are part of my professional life.

Anyway, point is, I’ve come to the conclusion that it would likely not serve me well to connect this blog with my professional endeavors.

Yet I still longed for a way to demonstrate my full capacities and versatility as a writer, because there’s just not that much of a place for it in my professional writing. I’m not writing for The New York Times, where they encourage that sort of thing (well, sort of). I’m writing for trade publications that want informational pieces. That’s just the reality.

And I’m not complaining. I’m happy to have the job. But it is what it is, you know?

Tiger

You can’t change a tiger’s spots, moron, because tigers have stripes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In all honesty, that’s part of why I started this blog in the first place. I needed to feel like I was doing some real writing — beyond what my current position limits me to as well as beyond even poetry (which I obviously can’t publish here if I ever want it picked up by literary journals, as my creative writing cohort is similarly familiar with). I needed to feel like I was doing some writing where I really just got to say what I wanted to in the ways I wanted to say them.

And as with any writing practice, it does improve with time and, er, practice. I’m seeing some interesting stuff develop through my blogging, and the more I like it, the more I think about somehow connecting this type of writing — definitely more me and what I’d like to be doing in the long term — to the other things I’ve got going on professionally (e.g., social media accounts, networking events, etc.).

So when my friend who knew nothing about these thoughts I’d been, er, thinking said what he, er, said to me, I knew it was really time for me to find a solution to this problem.

That doesn't seem right...

That doesn’t seem right…

So I brooded again.

Then I played some computer games. (Because I am seriously addicted to Bubble Mania, Bubble Seasons, and Bubble Blitz Mania — no joke.)

Then I worked on some poetry.

Then I did some cooking and laundry.

Then I went back to work for the week.

Then I brooded some more.

Then I repeated.

About two weeks later, in that magical — and when I say “magical,” I mean frickin’ insanely magical — space between wake and sleep that Larissa used to talk about and from which I’ve gotten so many ideas throughout the years, it came to me.

Light bulb

Bing! (Photo credit: plastAnka)

The answer is a new blog.

But not by me.

(But still by me, technically speaking.)

See, I need to be able to say things on the real, but I also need to have full indemnification.

And so, much like my poetry thesis, I will once again use a persona to accomplish my goals — which, now that I think about it, you’d think I would’ve considered as a promising solution much sooner, since it’s sort of a trick I’ve used before. But hey, I can’t be focused on the obvious when I’m too busy posting turd pics and/or talking smack, now, can I?

Flies on turd

The rankest one yet, kiddies! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Plus, there’s the other goal of blogging that I was taking into consideration: a specific focus. While I need a space where I can literally talk about whatever the eff I want (which would be here), I also wanted to help people — kind of like Dear Abby, but with the Judge Judy attitude like I mentioned in this blog (because I have plenty of that to go around, with extra helpings prepared for the stupid).

Hence, the new blog, which will be “ask the mystery writer anything” (so, advice, opinions, etc.) in nature and will launch as soon as my mom sends me the final rendition of said “writer.”

I will say nothing more about it here — because you have no idea the insanely inordinate amount of time I’ve spent this week learning how to clear Google’s caches, then submitting those requests — though I’ve probably already said too much. Meh. I’ve password-protected certain blogs and done all I could just in case people try to get crafty, so if something’s meant to come back and bite me in the rear at this point, so be it. I knew what I was getting into when I made this blog public, so it’s time to put my big-girl pants on.

Peasant skirt

That’s a little feminist humor for you. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyhoo, I will still be writing on this blog as well, though perhaps not as often. All of my Facebook preciouses will be able to easily find this new venture through links I will post there, and I hope you’ll check it out; you can also request passwords to the protected blogs here through Facebook as well. If you’re not on my Facebook but follow this blog and would like to see what I’m up to, just shoot me an email at justcallmeraegen@gmail.com.

Thanks again to old creative writing pal for forcing me to find an answer to my personal/professional dilemma. I hope I can do your feedback justice.

What Makes a “Real” Writer?

You probably didn’t know this, but Jesus was once a poet.

3rd quarter of 16th century

To eat, or not to eat: that is the ques — Oh, sure, Billy S., I’ll let you have that one. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not that Jesus, silly! My Jesus.

But when he was really young, thankfully. Or else he probably would’ve ended up turning into one of my douchebag exes, who also happened to be a poet.

I tend not to trust many male poets over 30.

English: Poet Billy Collins at the Union Squar...

Does this look like the face of a man you can trust? Because I don’t; I know a dirty little secret about him. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But that’s just a me thing.

Anyway…

This was a huge revelation to me; I can’t believe he’d never mentioned it before in the 2+ years we’ve been together now. But in all honesty, I wasn’t surprised.

“You do have a writer’s mind,” I said.

“I’m not crazy like you, though, so what do you mean?” he replied.

Actually, that’s not what he said. But that’s probably what he meant.

Crazy Face

This girl cray-cray! (Photo credit: StarMama)

Anyway…

“There’s a quality about a writer’s mind, I think,” said I (because I’ve always wanted to said I). “You may not use it to write stuff, but it’s still there. It’s in the way you see the world.”

Fast-forward to a conversation I had last weekend with one of my best friends from high school. She’s got the writer’s mind as well — in fact, she may not remember this, but she used to share poems she wrote back then with me, along with some drawings that looked like what I imagine the world probably does after a lot of ‘shrooms. And in spite of technological advances like email, she’s insisted that we correspond via written letter over the years instead as well.

Nitrous Oxide on LSD

Trippy, dude… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, she’s writing again — creatively, that is — though she’s accumulated all the fun stuff the rest of us creative and professional writers have as well: fear of failure, a sense of inadequacy, feeling like a fraud, anxiety with respect to the act of writing, etc. What’s worse is that, due to the nature of the political work she does, she’s surrounded in part by some pretty ignorant people who dump their reverse-racist BS on her, as if it was her fault she was born a white person and she should feel guilty about it.

Well, maybe it was, if you consider it from a cosmic, karmic sense. But if that’s true, then it’s also true that those people who are harassing her were born into their current lives due to some karmic reason as well.

But I don’t think anyone wants to go too far down that line of argument, do they?

Path

No, this path doesn’t lead to impending doom. I swear… (Photo credit: Guerito)

Anyway…

So, I’ve read some of her recent work. Not surprisingly, it’s very good. Like, better than most of the stuff I wrote in grad school. Like, better than some of the stuff I read in grad school. Like, better than a lot of what I read in literary journals.

And no, I’m not biased because she’s my friend; as most of the friends who’ve tolerated me up to this point know, if I think what you’re up to sucks, at the very least, I just won’t say anything to you, and at the very most, I’ll give you a verbal smackdown.

Anyway…

It’s not just a matter of having a great command of the language — though that’s certainly essential, and she’s gained it from reading a lot and writing a lot (also both essential).

No, what makes a real writer (at least according to this writer, and you’re certainly free to disagree with me) is something in the mind — something you either have or you don’t, my sales colleagues would say: the “it” factor.

Wow! (Bananarama album)

She’s got it! Yeah, baby, she’s got it! (“Wow!” indeed.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The “it” factor in salespeople is something I actually don’t have a word for, though I sense it in people like my sister. She has that salesperson “it” factor, and if you know her, you know what I’m referring to, and you know I’m speaking the truth here.

But I do have a word for the “it” factor in writers, and here it is:

Depth.

You’re not just in the world; you’re seeing the world. And sure, you’re seeing it with subjective eyes, perhaps even extremely imaginative eyes, but you’re still seeing things those other people who are just in the world don’t. You’re like what’s-his-name in The Sixth Sense, except less creepy.

English: Mug shot of Haley Joel Osment.

Because come on — this is hard to beat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, unless you’re my creepy poet ex. Then you’re more creepy (or creepier, as it were).

Anyway…

The good news for some “writers” is that this really is just my observation and opinion. As it turns out, depth is not actually required to gain entry to a graduate creative writing program; nor is it required to get published in a literary journal; nor is it required to get a job teaching writing, in journalism, or in some other writing field.

So perhaps what I’m really saying is, depth is the essential quality that defines a good writer — at least in my book. If I don’t experience some way of seeing the world that I’m familiar with differently, or see a world I’ve never seen or imagined before, I lose interest like

English: Store bought cupcakes.

Hey, these look yummy! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It boggles my mind sometimes when I think about some of the “writers” I’ve known along this unusual journey that’s been my life thus far. And when I think of them, I think mostly of missed opportunities, great stories never told, even youth wasted away not writing — doing everything one can, in fact, to avoid writing. And I’m not talking the general anxiety most of us experience as perhaps temporary “writer’s block.” No, I’m talking the real, full-on shirking of writing tasks — and then the nerve to demand to still be called a writer.

Get a clue. Real writers want to write. Even when they know what’s about to come out will suck. Even when it takes work — and real writing does take work; it’s not just about having your name or byline on a piece of crap just to be able say, “Look at me! Look what I did!” Even when all their buddies are out partying and doing a million other things more entertaining than grueling through the creative process.

Everything else is just a degree you got in college, kid. And no, for the record, I don’t think that makes you a real writer. You’re probably destined for another career path, and the sooner you accept that, the better off we’ll all be.

English: Jonathon Porritt, English environment...

You mean I still have to, like, do stuff after I finish this speech? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the other hand, I know these amazing people who see something strange about the world — and I’ve had the pleasure of working with a great deal of them. Other members of this same group, however, write quietly in the seclusion of their rooms, stuffing their journals into boxes, then hiding them from the world in the back of their closets under lock and key.

And to these people, I say, you’re as real a writer as the people sharing their magnificent creations with the world. To these people, I say, you were given the gift of depth for a reason. To these people, I say, it is your responsibility to the world to overcome your fears, centered in the self, and share your gift with others for the greater good.

Why? Because without your creative vision, there can be no challenge to the status quo — which is why the world is strange and why, in a lot of ways, it sucks. And without the challenge, there can be no change in the world, no hope for anything different, better.

It doesn’t get more politically driven than that.

So embrace your depth. Pick up your WMD — I mean, pen — and do like Kate Winslet did in Titanic.

I'll never let go, Jack. Do you know what they do with these kinds of pictures on the Internet? Oh, wait -- wrong scene.

I’ll never let go, Jack. Do you know what they do with these kinds of pictures on the Internet nowadays? Oh, wait — wrong scene.

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