Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The itchiness of women

Itchiness in women is a sore point. Just the acknowledgement is a put down. I read a study of itchiness in women in the Atlantic magazine.
Mama itch with two of her female children. Little itches.


What bothered me was the experiment. They basically proved that women could not contain their cattiness when the woman giving instructions wore a low cut blouse with their boobs hanging out, hot pants and boots versus when the same woman wore a more conservative outfit of a blue knit top with khaki pants.

Well duh, what happened to you dress for the job you aspire to. If you dress like a call girl, why would you invoke respect from women or men.

The inverse of this would be men would be more likely to make a sexual advance to a woman presenter dressed sexy. I think this is why I went home from teaching school, changed clothes, put on make-up and fluffed my hair up to go nightclubbing on Friday nights. I don't think men would have asked that haggard teacher that left work to dance.

As a teacher, I have been called an "itch". I've been white itch, fat itch, big tittied itch. I've been friends with black "itches" and fellow white itches, fat itches, you get the picture. These ladies were terribly nice in my opinion. I did know a teacher who bragged the students thought she was an "itch". Frankly, if the shoe fits . . .

I worked at a school that was supposedly filled with "itches". We worked for a woman who had a lot of guts. At the time I thought she was so courageous because she came from a very wealthy family. I learned that woman had a strong spirit and a keen sense of justice. She paid for every time she stood up for you, herself or someone else.

The study in the Atlantic made me think of a study by Margaret Mead. She went to fancy eastern colleges and tried to persuade the young ladies to eat turnip greens, etc during World War II. The gals did not eat more of the vegetables in response to Margaret Mead's august praise of the food. The commentator stated a flaw was Margaret Mead should have gotten a movie star, et al to do the touting of the food. Accomplished as Margaret Mead was, she was not glamorous. I don't have a source for this anecdote. It is from memory.

Which leads me to another item? Why are we raising kids to think someone giving them an honest opinion is their enemy. As a teacher, I sugar coated criticism. I also told kids I was paid to correct them.

I follow a blog of an incredibly intelligent and talented writer. She will be a force in literature if she does not implode first. She was chastised and released on twitter for taking another person's work and appropriating it as hers. Being 16, she was indignant that the scholar she had borrowed so heavily from told her to take it down and dropped it since she was a minor. If you read the blog post, it is child's indignation.

 This is the post.

In the comments, her friends agreed with her. Real friends would tell her there is a time to listen to the criticism. I thought of commenting. But, she was told by these women.

This was my beef with some gifted students when I taught school. They were bright and used to being told how good they were. They were that bright. But somehow, some thought they were perfect. This was usually combined with parents who had no tolerance of someone doing their child wrong whether the child was right or wrong.

I had a great deal of admiration for the father who called my young self and told me not to change a grade until his child brought it to my attention. I had taken high 90 something average and put like 85 in the computer. I just made a mistake. Some parents would have gone nuclear on me. It took about two days for the child to discuss it with me. I deserved an academy award for saying, "Oh you are right, let me fix it."

Do I like criticism? No. I like my life as easy as it can be. It just don't work that way. But I have benefited from some pretty mean spirited criticism. There is always something there to use. I have to remind myself when I get rejection for what I write. It has made me a better writer. It is also giving me the confidence to know whether I agree or not. But no I don't like criticism. I had someone read my first screenplay and he tore it apart. I laid in bed looking at the ceiling after reading his review. And you know, everything he said was right.

The argument in the Atlantic discusses that women don't like their loose counterparts because it makes it harder for men to commit to long term relationships with them. I get the logic. I just think that the argument demeans men and women. It is like all men only want a succession of one night stands. I agree with the pun that women have sex to have men say I love you and men say I love you to have sex.

I don't know, I don't know. But I do know men live longer with a spouse than being single. I also know I am not an "itch" when I speak my mind while being female. I'm old enough to know that nursing a grievance is not a sign of deep thought. Which is another thought and this post is long enough.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

To An Athlete Dying Young

Everyday, teenagers are killed in car accidents. It always stings whether you know them or not. I've had a friend to have her only child to die from losing control of his automobile this past weekend. Two others in the car were unharmed. Another one may be paralyzed. On the other side of the county, another high schooler is in intensive care from an accident at about the same time.

I did not know the child well. But I do know he was a good boy. I am very fond of his mother and family. I have always loved children and especially teenagers.

What moves me the most about this is the big question of Why?

I can appreciate someone being agnostic. I was for most of my life. Even now that thought permeates me. One day when it came the hardest, I dreamed about my dad and woke up in the middle of the night. I feel like my dad visited me. I had one other dream where I was working outside. Trying to finish my work before stopping. My dad was telling me to stop and spend time with my mother and brother.

When my dad passed, my grandmother was in the process of a dying. There were snow flurries and snow was almost a definite for the next day. Georgia is not equipped to deal with snow, and everyone stays home. At the evening school I worked at we had the option to give the kids their final exam that day versus the next day when they were due. I gave my students the option with the opportunity to study.

Most were ready to take the test within ten minutes. I had one student who took her time. I had decided to raise her grade by five points for every extra five minutes she studied. During that time, it was like someone really happy came into my room and said, "So this is where you work." It was brief but I took note of the time.  My dad unexpectedly passed at about the time when I had the visit.

When my grandmother's mother passed, a bowl she had given my mother cracked in half at the moment she died. My mother was baking apples in the bowl like she had baked so many other batches of apples.

I have read where other people had a similar experience and it is called the "final goodbye". My grandmother passed away shortly after my dad's funeral.

What tore me up the most after my dad died was talk about people having heart attacks. I had a friend who found out she had had a mild heart attack during a physical before a cosmetic procedure. Sitting at dinner, it was difficult to listen to the story and not betray how I felt. The person who asked my dad and grandmother's age and said, "Well they were old." was more of a shock and what a story to repeat item in my mind.

I've led a fairly enchanted life in that I have never had that many people around me die. The only thing I know is to say I'm sorry, pray for the survivors and never avoid someone because I don't know what to say.

A young history teacher was surprised to know I was a Christian. He thought I was an atheist. That was a shock of information. Where I live, if you are an unbeliever, it is best to keep it to yourself. So this admission was disturbing. I never brought religion into the classroom. It is really the domain of parents and I always respected that. What I did share with him is that I don't think people have to have religion to be good. But religion does help you through the difficult parts of your life.

What I think about when someone so young with so much promise dies young is the bible verse and old saying that our deaths are an appointment with our maker. The other thought is the poem in high school called "To An Athlete Dying Young" by A. E. Housman. It was written in 1896. I remember studying it in high school and thought it was such a yawner at the time. Funny how that yawner has stayed with me.

Any way, you can grieve and rage but it does not change what has happened. The memorial will be Saturday. The shock of it being a child I knew has torn me up. I can't imagine how the family is doing. They are clearly in shock. They appear to be taking it well. God bless them. I know they have a painful journey ahead..

To An Athlete Dying Young

The time you won your town the race,
We chaired you through the marketplace;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
As home we brought you shoulder-high.
To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.
Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:
Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.
So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.
And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Writer's Police Academy

I attended the writer's police academy sponsored by Sister's in Crime in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  You wouldn't think it would be so much fun spending a few days exploring murder and mayhem. But it was.

I came a day early to rest up. Delta Air Lines is still in the throes of their power outage. My first flight left late. It was scheduled for 8 PM. The flight had been delayed until 10 PM. However, I am glad I got to the airport early. We left around 9:30. The best part was I got to go through the TSA prechek. I got to wear my shoes, they scanned my bags, I walked through a metal detector.

Long story short, I was exhausted when I got to Green Bay. The next day, I rested up and blew about $160 in the slot machines of the Casino. I have a fascination with folks who deliberately go to a casino and blow money. Then I go and blow money with the Chinese Zodiac slot machine. I also played the 1950's movie "The Blob" machine.

Tami Hoag and Les Goldberg
Special guests at the conference was Les Goldberg and Tami Hoag. Les Goldberg was a scream. He was so funny. He wrote his first book at 19. He was hilarious describing his experience writing sex scenes and he had never had sex. Actually, his jokes could be bland but it was his delivery that cracked you up. He introduced himself as a free lance sexual surrogate, screenwriter. What impressed me the most is his sincerity with putting you at ease and talking to you as a person. He was very positive and supporting.

Tami Hoag's presentation spiel was not rib cracking funny and not exactly serious. It was just an honest talk about her writing life. What I liked most was her response to a question in the follow-up panel on the last day. She described her response to a reporter who asked her opinion about a criminal case. She told them she was a writer, not law enforcement or a lawyer. She was not in the category of an expert. I liked that response. I've seen celebrities answer questions or offer opinions in areas outside their area of expertise. A few have done so out politeness to the questioner in the audience.

Once again, the street cops were the most informative. Their presentations are more grounded, less guarded. You get specifics not generalities. I was surprised and had my mind changed about concealed carry. I am not too fond of people carrying guns. I would not go anywhere I thought I needed one. However, the law enforcement officer said that most LEO have no problem with licensed, trained concealed carry.

I also learned that open carry is not a good idea from another participant. It makes them a target when there is an open shooter. Law enforcement does not know if they are the good guy or the bad guy.

This is my third time going. I felt somewhat foolish in that I don't write mysteries or crime dramas nor have I finished a novel. The ones I am working on can be best described as literary fiction, science fiction and children's stories. I've come close to quitting this year.

But I enjoyed the event. I liked so many people I met there. The information is incredible in comparison to just reading about the topic. I noticed many of the big name writers went to classes like the rest of us. Les Goldberg shared how a little reality and authenticity makes the less believable part of your story believable. He wrote the television series Monk. He described how in real life, no detective wore shirts to show their cleavage, chased down bad guys in high heels and traveled back to the station in their silver plated Escalades. These are not his exact words but close to it.

What I liked about the Oneida casino and Radisson next to the airport were these topiaries. The sleep number beds were like sleeping on a semi-inflated inner tube. How firm the mattress was depended on how full the mattress was filled with air. I don't recommend them.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Ruskies are coming.

My blog is blowing up this week.

These readers are from Russia. All of my 491 posts are being read at least four times. Sort of makes me think of Pop goes the Weasel or the game when I was a kid in which one chair was taken away. I think Vladimir Putin knows I'm not voting for the Orange Man.

Ironic in I have a few real Orange Men in my family tree. The fact they landed up in North America shows how much they were rewarded. These Orangemen were from Scotland and were loyal to the Catholic King James VII (Scotland) and II (England). Apparently this branch of my family got the boot before all the skirmishes were over. They were in North America before the 1700s. Even more irony is that their descendents are all buried in Protestant cemeteries.  The Orangemen of Ireland defended the Protestant cause.

I had a normal friend post a conspiracy theory on Facebook today. I chided him that he was slipping to the dark side. Not that I don't think some pretty shady, underhanded power plays are at work every day. It is just that some are too damn fabulous to be true. Add to that the fact that my browser and computer have been frozen from hitting some of the links. I know I shouldn't. But the more incredible, I just got to look. A friend of mine commented if you don't find a good conspiracy theory, make your own up.

I have gotten hooked on Big Brother. I watch every summer. This summer, the guests are boring. Almost all of them say the f-bomb two or three times a sentence. I sound prudish. It is more that they express themselves so poorly. Alright, I don't like cursing. Dangit!

Talk about conspiracy, almost all of them talk different to one another. They are usually voted off shortly after they become irritating, go on a power grab, get angry, get too emotional about a relationship. I do this every summer. I hate to see any of them voted off. My favorite is James. He has guts. I hope he gets HOH soon. The HOH gets to nominate two people to be voted out of the house.

I would like to see some of the power players voted off. Those in charge of putting everyone up to be voted out. There is satisfaction in seeing them get a taste of their own medicine. Everyone usually takes a safe (albeit cowardly) choice in hopes of others not wanting to kick them out afterwards. James does not take names. He blows everyone out of the water come what may. No guts, no glory.

I decided to translate this blog post into Russian and back into English for reference. Then I realized I did not know how to do that. Sort of my preemptive strike at all the nuttiness in the world. It just amazes me that this blog of little traffic could garner all that attention. Believe me, none of Hillary's emails are here. But I do know where you can find a lot of cat videos.

Facebook has also proved some of the stereotypes of cat people. Now that is a big leap. But not if you are a cat person. I know. I am a cat person with a whole bunch of dogs. So those Ruskies better not think they can sneak up on me. But my conspiracy theory will be a little wilder than normal. At least I hope it is. You can lie and tell me it is. It will not hurt my feelings. I will just get the big head and threaten all of Russia. You better not be stealing my posts.

What my posts are not that newsworthy? I'm having a hard time with my conspiracy theory anyhow.

Well Holly Berries, oh my.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

My reading inclination is non-fiction. I have some great fiction on my Kindle but I read the collection of Slave Narratives from the WPA work program of the 1930s. To say some of the stories were harrowing was an understatement. Technically, it was research for my WIP.

I'm muttering through an online course. I have to finish by August 5th. The worst part is in previous courses, I couldn't wait until the next portion. With this one, I am slugging away. I think one of my mistakes is to sign up for the class when I had too much going on. There is something about getting behind in your work.

I used to promptly grade papers. If I let them set too long, I never graded them. They would wind up in the garbage. My first year teaching school, I had two paper grocery bags full of ungraded work. Being not much more than a kid myself, I slipped them out of school and tossed them into a garbage bin at a small store in the town to hide my crime.

I know, everyone is thinking about that huge homework assignment they never got back. It's in the garbage bin at the Stop and Shop.

I accidentally posted my blog early last week so I have changed my weekly day to blog to Wednesday from Friday. The good part is you are much less likely to hear about the weekly grocery expedition that happens every Wednesday.

Tomorrow, I have a doctor's appointment. I have not taken my prescribed cholesterol meds. Like a kid, it is too late. I have got to admit my transgression. This is mostly over lack of habit. It started because I couldn't eat my canned grapefruit. I used to eat a can of grapefruit every evening. Once again, delay led to me getting nothing done.

Procrastination is not my friend.

Add to that my underlying Type A personality, I charge ahead too easily and the price is I don't always enjoy what I do. Being a huge reader, this writing thing has put a huge hurdle in settling down with a good book. My dad always read a book two times. The second time to pick up little details he missed. I read "Island of the Blue Dolphins" about 40 times as a teacher. The more I read it, the more I liked it.

Did I mention two new stories have danced into my head.

It ain't all going to happen. I've started reading Sandra Cox's book Ghost For Sale and I am hooked. I was supposed to go to my water aerobics class tonight but the evening storms are brewing. So darn, I'll just have to keep on reading.

Do you procrastinate, prioritize or chunk it? If I could only chunk a few household chores.


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