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Bringing Classy Back

nVrhIXQHere’s a secret about me… despite being an introvert I like parties. The problem is the parties I like are a dying breed, hell I think they are buried but I’ve getting out my shovel. See I like those small intimate affairs like you see in the swanky movies of the late 60′s. Think Rat Pack, think Mad Men… give me small classy affair over a bacchanalia anytime.

But as I said it’s a dying breed. I tried having one last year. It was fairly successful thanks in part to a friend who has both good conversation and bartending skills. But I know I was missing some skills. But I had put the thought back its into it’s little bottle. Appreciating that I got to have one sort of close to what I was looking for. But then I started reading Playboy’s Host and Bar Book (c. 1971) and to say it re-awaking the desire is an understatement. Now, I don’t just want to throw these type of parties. I want to everyone to throw this kind of party at least once. To slow down and enjoy good food, good drink, and have nice close conversations that involve face to face, not monitor to monitor contact. Like my nieces and nephews say, I want people to have enjoy a “Grown folks” party. Or more importantly, I want to bring classy back.

Read more here.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2014 in Writing

 

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We are all mad here

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been writing here as much.  Part of it is that I have been busy.  The other part is that I have started a new blog, Petals from a Lily.  I own the domain and have put all my different types of work together in one home.

I’ll be sharing posts from that blog here for the next two weeks before deleting this one entirely.  I appreciate so much your support with Defying Normal and hope you will continue to support me as I transition to the new blog.

Below is an excerpt from today’s post on Petals from a Lily.

Even though we are now into April, March Madness still rolls on. Much like the Superbowl, the end of the NCAA tournament seems to get moved further and further into the next month. Personally, I could use less days of the “madness”. I don’t hate basketball, just not a fan of most team sports. I think the reason is not because of the sports themselves, but the fans. I live in one of the areas of the country that college basketball is nearly a religion. Granted if you threw an altar in the sports arena I’m sure there would be someone there to worship in front of it. You can’t go anywhere with seeing the apparel of at least one of the big teams in the state. And I’m not talking one of the shirts that you pick up in the bookstore if you are a student. There are several stores dedicated to this kind of merchandise.

Read the complete post here.

 

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2014 in Writing

 

Today’s Theme Music – King of Birds

krayker/rgbstock.com

krayker/rgbstock.com

King of Birds popped up in my Pandora today.  I haven’t heard it in a while but it reminded me of my first band obsession, R.E.M.  Thanks to MTV in the 80’s, I discovered many artists; Cindy Lauper, Culture Club, Men at Work, and R.E.M.  I owned at least an album or cassette of each.  The first R.E.M. video I saw was for It’s the End of the World as We Know It, after that was Stand.  I bought the cassette and became obsessed.  I knew every song, the order, and the words, well as much of the words as one can with Michael Stipe.

Then I had to go buy the previous albums and memorize them too.  Even today I can hear pretty much any song from Murmur (mostly) through Green and tell you which song goes next.  After that it starts to get hazy.

Singer sing me a given, singer sing me a song

One of the first songs I performed in front of mostly strangers was Swan Swan H off of Life’s Rich Pageant.  I had sung in church choir when I was a child and did a song for a camp talent show but this was my freshman year at college.  I had managed to make a handful of friends but they hadn’t known me more than a couple of months.  This was also alumni weekend so 99.9% of the crowd I hadn’t even met.  But somehow I screwed up my courage and stood on a stage by myself, without musical accompaniment, and belted out a song I still don’t fully understand but find hauntingly beautiful.

Standing on the shoulders of giants, leaves me cold

What I like about R.E.M. are beautiful lyrics completely open to interpretation. And believe me a lot of their songs have changed meaning for me over the course of my life.  I didn’t think much of the shoulders of giants line at first but as I tried to make my way in the world it’s meaning kind of smacked me in the face.  I’m all for appreciating the past and those who made contributions then to make my life easier now.  But then there comes a point where the next generation can’t make their own way because they aren’t allowed to do anything because the older generation knows better and has more experience.  Never seeming to realize that someone had to have given them a chance one time as well.  That was me and a lot of activism when I was younger.  Part of the reason I left.  I didn’t want to be in charge and I know I wasn’t always right, but I wanted to be at least listened to and be able to contribute.  Maybe that’s all changed, but the idea of going back leaves me cold.

There’s time to teach

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in introspective, Music, Writing

 

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Today’s Theme Music – Magnet and Steel

©joggi2002/Stockfresh

©joggi2002/Stockfresh

Today’s theme song wouldn’t let me sleep, seriously. Anytime my brain came anywhere near to conscious thought, there it was. Then there was the part of my brain that was making sure I got the lyrics right this time. You see growing up I never heard “you are a magnet and I am steel”, instead I heard “you are romantic and I am still”. So I always thought of it as a song about a guy who was afraid to move despite getting all the signals saying it’s okay.  Maybe I was just projecting.

With you I’m not shy…

Most of my life I’ve been what you call shy, introverted, easy to embarrass.  I’m in my forties yet I still blush like a schoolgirl.  It’s not a gimmick I can’t help it.  And being shy costs; I make a lousy first impression.  My shyness is often misinterpreted as aloofness or disinterest.  Truth is I’m scared out of my mind.  I’m awkward, I’m a dork, I’m constantly afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. Even if I’ve had a gazillion conversations with someone online, in person is completely different.  My running joke used to be the I can get along and form a relationship easily online, but once they met me, it was over.  And that held true for a long time.  The emails petered off after a first meeting.  I blamed my looks, but mostly it was my shyness.

WIth bigger social interactions I’m learning to not hide in a corner, to forge ahead and be my awkward self.  I can always lament about how embarrassing I was on the ride home.  But one on one interactions, I’m still working on.  There is though that rare person who I’m willing to allow myself to be awkward, to try to reach past my shyness to connect.   Those people I just know are going to become very important to me.

…my secrets to reveal

There is only one reason we keep secrets, FEAR.  Fear of rejection, of persecution, of exclusion, of ridicule… fear of not being loved.  How many friendships, relationships, grow stale, grow apart because the one person we should feel the most comfortable with we still don’t trust with our true selves?

Ei, my friend, mentor, fairy godmother, is probably one of two or three people who is the closest to knowing my true self.  Ei was the first person I came out to about my orientation and relationship style. She’s the person who I can share my feelings without fear of being judged.  Any questioning is done out of love and a desire to know more.  Letting go of secrets is relieving the body, the spirit, of unnecessary burdens.

The secrets we seem to hold onto the most are the things that make us happy.  Of these the greatest are sexual desires.  I believe part of the reason that 50 Shades of Grey is so popular (even though I still refuse to read it) is because it made “weird” sexual desire somewhat mainstream.  That Suzy Homemaker can be safe with the knowledge that her secret desires are not as “deviant” as those of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.  One of the greatest pleasures can be gleaned when you telling your lover a desire and have them respond with “we can do that.” But even if that is the most likely response, believe me I know from experience, it’s still hard to put yourself out there.

For you are romantic and I am still.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2013 in introspective, Music, Writing

 

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Today’s Theme Music – Raise Your Glass

811074_42972383I’m not much for celebrations or parties.  It may have to do with being an introvert, although it’s probably because I’m socially awkward as hell. I ran away for the weekend to avoid having a 30th birthday party. I wasn’t sure if anyone would come if I threw one. And if people did come, how would I entertain them?  I was thrown a 31st birthday party.  It will go down in history as ground zero for the Martian death flu. Some nasty stomach virus was going around and most if not all of the attendees had it before, during, or after the party.  I had it before and during, spending most of the party with my head in HB’s lap; my fever broke just before the opening of gifts.

I haven’t had a birthday party since.

Attending parties is about the same.  I’m a dork, I don’t do small talk well, I always seem to go too deep too fast or I bring up what I think are pop culture references everyone knows. All I get is blank stares. Plus I have no decent party clothes.  Unemployment and weight gain has made me the queen of knit pants and graphic tees. The rare occasions I do dress up I feel overdressed.

So when I was asked to join the live voice chat for KJSR.net’s fifth anniversary show I was terrified.  Okay I’m not special, everyone who is a DJ, listener, or contributor, was asked to join in.  And since they are nice enough to allow me to do a weekly movie review segment (Been Caught Streaming, Friday nights during the Good Times with DJ Charlie show) it seemed like the right thing to do.  But the chat would be happening on and off the air and this was like a celebration so I was being invited to a virtual…party Dun-dun-dunnnnnn!

What if didn’t fit in?  It’s easy to hide most of my awkwardness during a pre-recorded segment.  I knew I couldn’t just hide in a virtual corner, SOMEONE wouldn’t let me do that.  So I talked, tentatively at first.  And you know what? I felt like I belonged.  I was in a virtual room with people I’ve never met and with the exception of a few hadn’t even had a chat conversation with.  Yet I felt more at ease than I had at any “party” before.  Why yes, I’m not normal, but you knew that already.

At 11p.m., the time the first broadcast day of KJSR.net ended, DJ Charlie proposed a toast to the station, DJs, contributors, and friends. Then he played this song. 

My drink was Rum-Chata

It was a nice party

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2013 in introspective, Music, Writing

 

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Today’s Theme Music – It’s My Life

One of my favorite photos I've taken, with some added photoshop filters.

One of my favorite photos I’ve taken, with some added photoshop filters.

I love music; and along with movie, book, and TV quotes there is probably a soundtrack that accompanies pretty much anything I go through in life.  As I mentioned before I suffer from depression.  There is music I listen to when I’m depressed as well as music I listen to when I’m ready to try and climb out of the pit.  Yes, there is a lot of morose music in that soundtrack, but as probably anyone that experiences depression will tell you, it’s not all about sadness.  Sometimes it’s about anger.

When my depression is triggered by a specific event there is usually a lot of anger bubbling under the surface.  For once I can lash out as something other than near mythical brain chemicals for my pain.  My soundtrack for that has some definite standards; Bullet with Butterfly Wings by Smashing Pumpkins, Dragula by Rob Zombie, Violet by Hole, and today’s theme song, It’s My Life by No Doubt.

Now It’s My Life is sort of a bridge song in the depression soundtrack.  It’s not as angry as the rest and the original version of the song by Talk Talk doesn’t elicit the same response as when Gwen Stefani sings it.  It’s about the struggle for restoration of control.  At least that’s how I feel the song.

Oh, it’s my life                                                                                                                        
Don’t you forget

One of the things that is the quickest to piss me off is when people try to run and control my life. Make me be something I’m not, shove me into a mold that I don’t fit.  When I can’t fight back or when it feels that all I’m doing is fighting back it triggers my depression.  I’m not anti-leadership, actually I can be very loyal, but you earn that loyalty. Don’t mistake my delicate nature for weakness damnit or there will hell to pay!  Erm um *clears throat* back to the song lyrics.

And I’ve asked myself
How much do you
Commit yourself?

Sometimes, if I’m honest, it’s my fault.  On the surface it’s easier to be a sheep than to step out and be yourself.  On the surface, but below you pay in spades.  No one can keep you from being yourself but you.  I repeat No one can keep you from being yourself but you.  “But… but…” you say. “I’m a corporate cog; I have to wear the corporate drag.”  I say, “What happens after 5pm is your business.” You reply, “But what if I run into my boss outside of work in full fetish gear?”  I would say take your chances.  Or if you can’t afford to risk your job I would say, your boss doesn’t live in your bedroom or your house do they?  The important thing is you got to be yourself, even if it’s for a few minutes each day or you might as well be dead.  I don’t care if you are under scrutiny 24/7, you still have your brain and if all you can do is fantasize about being yourself, DO IT.

Because…

It’s my (and your) life
Don’t you forget

I’ve included both versions of the song because Mark Hollis’ (Talk Talk) voice is beautiful and this is a rare case where the original and the remake are both excellent.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2013 in introspective, Music, Writing

 

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We create history

lusi_via_rgbstock

by lusi via rgbstock

Three separate incidences within the last twenty-four hours has led me to write this.  The difference between the past and history is a matter of records.  We know in the past that people of African descent were treated deplorably in the United States; slave narratives, photographs, and videos of the civil rights movement is a history that you can’t deny.  Someone may disagree with my definition of past versus history, but that’s how I see it.  But the interesting thing about history is that it can be completely skewed when there is only a handful to record it.

Erasing history

I was watching the movie Ironclad last night, movie 227 by the way, it’s about King John’s actions after he signed the Magna Carta.  As he takes on the rebellion who are trying to hold on to Rochester castle he has an official recorder with him, who is taking down the story of the great battle.  When the rebellion manages a small but important victory, King John tells the recorder to not write it down, going so far as to rip the offending pages out of the book.  Many times in the past all reminders of a despised or dishonored leader were destroyed, events that reflected badly on the ruler simply not recorded.  If not for an oral retailing  or a hiding of artifacts these people and events were simply erased from history.

Righting history’s wrongs

Which brings me to incidence number two, Egypt.  At this moment over 500 people have died with thousands injured.  I can’t even begin to fathom that level of violence.  But this morning I was watching the news and there was a man mourning the death of his brother.  He stated that the health ministry wouldn’t release the body to him until he agreed to a death certificate that listed his brother’s cause of death as natural causes, even though clearly it was a bullet to the back of the head.  Thankfully his statement is on video that is from a news agency that is not controlled by the people trying to create a history that makes them look good.  But the question is twenty, thirty, forty years from now, which version will be saved and which will be lost in the past? I’m not sure which, it’ll probably be a crap shoot, but what I am pretty certain is that for generations to come, the members of this family will tell how this poor soul was felled by a sniper’s bullet.

Filling in the cracks

The third incidence is this week’s premiere of the movie Lee Daniel’s The Butler.  I suspect that from early reviews, much like with the movie The Help, people are going to be shocked about this part of American history.  To most people, and by that I mean mostly non-african americans, black history in America is slavery and the civil rights movement which was “only” about integration, Jim Crow (which most people can’t define), and voting rights.  Just highlights so vague that they feel more like past than history. Anyway, this news anchor was talking that she had got to see and early screening of the film and was shocked, shocked that the black butlers of the White House were paid less and denied advancement for decades.  Really??  Did you suspect that even though we couldn’t drink from the same fountains, go to the same schools, or even vote in most places that somehow pay was equal?  I guess there is this notion that all these problems were a southern thing and such forward cities as Washington, D.C. wouldn’t be tainted by such things.

But I  guess I can’t blame her too much.  History textbooks are generally vague Cliffs Notes of the past 200+ years of American history.  And to be honest when it comes to racial discrimination, history books are very bias against the south.  Now I’m not deny the south was the worst with laws, lynchings, and what have you, but the north’s history isn’t squeaky clean, maybe just more subtle.  If you were to cast a net over any black person living in the same time period, north or south they could tell you similar stories to this movie; theirs has just not been recorded in a book or splashed across the big screen.

And that’s my point, we all create history.  I’m not talking the big highlights, the rulers, the wars, the great travesties, those get taken care of for the most part.  I’m talking stories like the one of the sniper’s victim and the butler, of what it was like to live in those times.  Of the small victories and learnings that help us move forward as the human race.  Those are what makes history rich, makes us remember it long past regurgitating them on a test or pulling them from the cobwebs of our brain to recite for trivia.

History exists because someone left a reminder  

Are you creating history or are you doomed to be in the past?  If you are not creating history, start. Why? Because YOUR LIFE STORY IS IMPORTANT.  This is not up for debate. You, yes you need to be part of history.  Every person lost to the past is a tragedy, even the jerks.  Because jerks if nothing else are cautionary tales or you may find knowing their history that you perceived them wrong all along.  So I’m going to give you a list of assignments to help you create history.  They are for me as well, because I’m just as guilty of forgetting this important task.

  1. Take a picture (or video) of yourself at least once a month – And please don’t limit it to the bathroom mirror selfie. I know that’s the best lighting in the house but its better if you are remembered for more than good lighting.  Take a picture at your favorite local landmark, doing your favorite activity, working, etc.  Twenty years from now your photo may be the only lasting memory of your favorite cafe.  Now that it so much better than the bathroom mirror isn’t it?
  2. Now that you have this picture (or video), label it properly, and make more than one copy – Label the digital file, go into the meta data and tell a story of the picture. Print the picture out and attach a post it note, or glue it in a scrapbook or journal and add words.  Pretty isn’t important, leaving a record is. With video, include a title screen, burn it to a disk, label the disk as well as the case. Include a card with a synopsis inside the case.
  3. Share stories and knowledge – Social media and blogs/vlogs are great places to share information, but we don’t have a lot of control over how they are saved, if at all.  It is said nothing truly disappears from the internet.  That may be true, but how retrievable is that information?  If you blog then print out your entries on a regular basis.  Considering saving them down to disk or drive as well.  But most importantly don’t use just this vehicle to share; tell stories to people face-to-face.  You can tell if there listening and your sharing may get them to share in return.  They can ask you questions that will help fill in the gaps you didn’t recognize and enrich the history.  And besides it’s yet another way to preserve the record.  Oral tradition has succeeded when recording devices are lost or destroyed.
  4. Don’t pick and choose – Do you think that when Anne Frank wrote in her diary she thought that one day it would be translated into 67 languages and reproduced over 30 million times?  So include your favorite recipe, your adoration of actors, movies, and shows; don’t hide your tattoos, or scars, or disabilities.  How will people know what it was like to live with cancer, or fibromyalgia, or diabetes if they are cured in the future but no one created history about it?  Share your crafts, your recipes, your fears, your triumphs; all is important.  We can’t predict what’s important to the future, we can only create the history.

Any other suggestions of how to create history?  Leave me a comment.

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2013 in Activism, introspective, Writing

 

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