Category Archives: Uncategorized

Procrastination. Oh, my friend, I know thee well. When it comes to writing, or doing something that I don’t particularly want to do, I will find just about anything to do instead. Now, for most normal things, I will eventually suck it up and do it, but when it comes to writing . . . Oh, when it comes to writing . . .

 

I love writing. It is as essential to me as breathing, and if I go without writing for too long, I get cranky. Hell, I even get downright mean. But there are times when the words just won’t come, or where I know exactly what the scene is that I want to write, but I can’t get it to come out on paper the way I see it in my head. And, so what do I do? I avoid it. I have been known to clean my entire house from top to bottom, including steam cleaning the carpets, simply because I am fighting with my muse.

 

But then, the writing I’m doing now, is different. This isn’t the fiction work that I’m used to doing. It isn’t the flights of fancy with the crescendo of action and emotion, drama and suspense, that eventually leads to the harmonic suite of woodwinds and strings, the love song and finale where all is right with the world. Instead, this writing is what amounts to running scales and breath exercises. (Did I mention that used to be involved with music? I was a flautist in primary school.)

 

I still enjoy it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not quite the same. This is a touch more formal, less freestyle and more . . . structured. Not that there’s anything wrong with structure, per say, but it’s like telling an abstract artist to paint by numbers.

 

I’m trying to get myself more used to writing in this manner as I’ve been looking into writing opinion articles for journals and newspapers. It feels odd to try to write for a newspaper knowing that I’m not a journalist, and have never been formally trained as one.

 

There are voice out there, Tom Brokaw and Anderson Cooper, to name a few, that I greatly respect and admire, and to me, that’s what a journalist should be. Someone who researches their stories, fact checks the information, goes straight to the horse’s mouth, as it were, for the inside scoop.

 

But that’s not me, and maybe that’s why they call those articles ‘opinion pieces’. They know that the author isn’t a professional journalist, and while held to a certain level of responsibility, you’re not held to the same level of accountability. Cognitively, I understand this, but it’s still odd. Maybe it always will be.

 

In all the information I’ve found about writing these pieces – opinion based missives – everything has said to write about what you know, but I keep finding myself asking: What do I really know? Well, let’s take a look at that together, shall we?

 

Since I became a member of the workforce back when I was fifteen (and dinosaurs roamed the earth), I’ve worked in customer service and technical support. I work closely with people. People. Well, that’s something to offer, isn’t it? So, what has working in those fields taught me about people?

 

In short, it’s taught me that the American culture is downright willfully ignorant, happily disrespectful, and so damn self-centered and narcissistic that they have no concept that the person behind the sales counter, at the register, or over the phone is, in fact, another human being. I pray for the days that I get someone on the phone from another country. Do you know how sad it makes me to realize that I am shown more respect over the phone by a person calling in for technical support from Egypt, or India – even Qatar – than I am by someone calling in from Illinois who is a born and raised American?

 

I see in the news and in the papers about all of these people yelling at immigrants to get out of this country – to make America great again – and all I want to do is yell back at them that they are the problem. Not the immigrants. Not people visiting our country. Not people of color who have been born and raised here.

 

I will be completely honest, with you. I am a white Anglo-Saxon 6th generation American woman, born in the Midwest, raised in Florida, and now living in the Pacific Northwest, and more often than not lately, I find myself ashamed to admit any of that. I have always loved this country, but not its people, and certainly these days, not its government.

 

The voices of hate and intolerance that are shouting louder than ever before, seem all too happy to forget the truth. Or maybe, they’re just content to ignore it and pretend that the history they’ve fabricated is what is real.

 

What is now known as the United States was not a barren unsettled country until white men appeared on her shores. This country was home to the Native Americans for thousands of years before Europeans ever even knew it existed. There were hundreds of Native American nations – some peaceful, some not – but this was their home, and their once great numbers are now only a shadow of what they once were.

 

Christopher Columbus did not “discover” America. He stumbled upon it, crashed into it, all while looking for India. Basically, he was stumbling around in the dark, blind and drunk, and stuck his flag where it didn’t belong. Sound familiar? Then in the early to mid-1600s, English refugees came to the shores of what is now Massachusetts. They were kicked out of England for being radical religious extremists. So, what did they do? They boarded a boat, set out to sea, and immigrated illegally to what would later become the United States.

 

Yeah, I said it, and I’ll say it again. The country you know today was founded by illegal immigrants who were religious extremists. But not just that. Did they even attempt to live peacefully with the native peoples they found?

 

Nope!

 

Instead of trying to learn and understand the culture of the natives, instead of trying to learn their language, and make peace with them, the white settlers – those illegal immigrants (Oh, you can bet I’m going to keep saying it.) decided to take what was never theirs to start with. The Puritans raided the villages, gunned down the native peoples, and when that wasn’t enough to satisfy their bloodthirst, they offered tribes “gifts” of dolls and blankets and so many other things that they knew were infected with diseases like small pox, yellow and scarlet fevers, things that the native peoples had no immunity to because those things didn’t exist before the Puritans brought it to them.

 

Mass shootings. Biological warfare. Willful torture of humans and animals. Rape. The slaughter of women and children. The suppression and destruction of other cultures. The intolerance of other religions. Setting fire to homes and farms. Terrorism at its finest.  That, [white] America, is what the truth of your culture is, and if you want to shout at other people to go back to where they come from, why don’t you look in a fucking mirror first.

 

It took almost 150 years for the Founding Fathers to rise and to say “enough is enough”. They fought for religious and cultural freedom. They made a clear separation of church and state. They created the constitution. And it is the freedoms that they helped fight for that so many are all too willing to ignore now.

 

So, in short, what have I learned from my experience in customer service and tech support? Americans, by and large, are disgusting human beings. But sometimes, just sometimes, on a rare day, you can meet one person who might bring you the slightest glimmer of hope. And while it may not be enough to offset all the bad, it’s just enough to allow you a little breathing room, to remember why it is you want to fight for something better.

 

Emotions

It’s been a few days since I’ve written anything here, hasn’t it? I didn’t really have anything planned for today, but a recent argument with my other half solved that particular issue. In order to protect their privacy, I shall not be naming names, or using pronouns such as he/she, but instead, will simply say them/they/their. I’m sure that some of you will try to sort out which gender my other half is, and for those sleuths reading this, have at it. For those of you who know me in the real world, you already know the answer.

 

The topic of our argument is one that seems to be repeating itself far more frequently – emotion. Or as my other half would argue – my seeming lack of emotion. Now, that’s to say that I don’t have emotions, or that I’m a robot, neither or which are true. I am a writer, and – while I know it’s different for each person – for me, my writing is where I put my emotions. Through the words I write and the scenes I craft, I can make you feel the true depths of the emotions the characters experience. I can fill you with hope or joy, or make you suffer under the weight of doubt and agony.

 

I should also say, that my other half knows this about me and enjoys reading my writing, but their issue is that I don’t express emotion in real life. I don’t get upset enough about something to cry. I don’t show fear or uncertainty. I don’t have extended periods of silliness and childlike behavior. I’m steady. Or, as they would say, I’m an emotional flatline.

 

Now, I don’t really care if someone calls me an emotional flatline, a Vulcan, or even a robot. It doesn’t bother me, because I know who I am and I know what I feel. I don’t really give a crap if anyone else knows what I’m feeling or not. But my other half would argue, that that is the entirety of their issue.

 

Do I get frustrated? Yes. Do I cry because I’m frustrated? No. Do I yell or pitch a fit because I’m frustrated? No.

 

So, what happens when I’m frustrated? I look at the issue from all sides until I find a viable solution and then, I enact that solution. Okay, that doesn’t seem so bad.

 

But, that bothers my other half. Why? Because they can’t tell when or if I’m frustrated. And more to the point, they get annoyed and even, at times, downright offended that I won’t show my frustration. Well, here’s my side of that. If I am frustrated, it usually only lasts until the moment I’ve found a solution, and that might only be a few seconds. So, why on earth would I over exaggerate an emotional response that doesn’t even have a half-life of thirty seconds?

 

And there’s the crying thing. They always make it a point to tell me that they know other people who are steady and can still cry. Insert heavy sigh here. I’m not a crier. I’m just not. The only times I have cried, and it was a little bit more than being misty-eyed, was during movies.

 

A Dog’s Purpose. Hachi. Marley and Me. Hacksaw Ridge. I will admit to crying during those at some – or even multiple – points.

 

My other half’s argument to that? I don’t cry during Steel Magnolias. Nope, don’t really find that movie sad. Their other argument: I don’t cry in response to real-life situations. No, I generally don’t. I don’t cry out of frustration. I don’t cry because I’m not getting my own way. I don’t cry if I’m happy. I don’t cry at funerals because I’ve had time to adjust to the fact that the person is – or will eventually – die.

 

There are those who would argue that I’ve never lost anyone suddenly, and they would be wrong. I have lost one family member – a first cousin – to suicide. But no, I did not cry for her. That’s not to say that I didn’t love her, because I did, but that is to say that I knew how much pain she was in and that no matter what was tried, that pain never went away.

 

Did I get to attend her funeral, no. She lived in another state, and I wasn’t able to get there, but that’s okay. A funeral is for the living, not the dead, and I said goodbye to her in my own way.

 

For the religious ones reading this, you may argue that she’s in Hell right, but I don’t believe that. I believe that she’s finding her peace, and will perhaps even be reincarnated to live another life. I don’t believe that suicide is a sin. I don’t believe in eternal damnation. And no, I’m not indoctrinated into a belief system of absolutes and heaven or hell.

 

I will admit that I am more likely to cry at the passing of an animal than I am that of a human, but that is simply who I am. An animal has a purity to them, a soul that is not weighed down by ulterior motives or deception. What they desire in life is simple. They want to love and be loved. They want to be petted, to be held, to be cherished, and they want to give that in return. Humans are another story.

 

Fear, is another big one. My other half made it a point to argue that I don’t show fear. Here’s the thing about fear and me. When I feel afraid, I ask myself this: What is it that I am afraid of, and why do I fear it? Nine times out of ten, the answer is “because I don’t understand it”. My response to that? Let’s do a little research. Let me learn about this thing that makes me uncomfortable and see if I’m still afraid of it, after getting some knowledge under my belt. A little knowledge can go a long way.

 

Now, what about the argument of someone holding a gun in my face? In that instance, I can tell you that fear would very quickly turn to rage and sarcasm. I don’t handle being threatened well and will respond rather energetically to that threat. Usually in the ball park of punching someone in the face.

 

Uncertainty? Nervousness? I feel those same emotions just as anyone else does. The only difference, is that I see no purpose in saying so out loud, or displaying that emotion. There is no benefit to doing so, no logical reasoning for it, other than to show someone else that you feel that way, and at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. Take a deep breath, face whatever it is that has you all twitchy, and do so with grace.

 

How about excitement? Surely my other half doesn’t have a problem with that. Oh, but they do. You see, for my other half, when they are excited they show that excitement physically, though what I have dubbed the “I’m a Little Teapot” dance. That’s perfectly fine. That’s how they show excitement. But I don’t, and that’s the problem they have.

 

I don’t bounce around, or smile like a maniac, or get overly emotive because I’m excited. Personally, I find such emotions exhausting. If I’m excited about something, I show interest in it. Simple as that. I might be a little more energetic than I usually am, or may be more likely to run out ahead of everyone else, but that’s about it.

 

Lately, within the past year or so, my other half has become increasingly put out that my emotions go into my writing, and that I don’t “share” my emotions with them. This is not something that has changed, I have been this way since before we met, but now it’s become a problem for them. And why, might you ask? Because in some manner, they have said that they feel that I don’t connect with them since I can’t show them my emotions. Not everyone displays emotions, and not everyone feels them to the same degree. This is something my other half seems unwilling to understand, and what drives me batty the most, is that when we do argue about this, they act as though displaying the emotions they have makes them better than those who don’t. And that’s just bullshit.

 

Yes, the fight I had with my other half is what inspired today’s post, but I’ve said all of that to say this: No two people react to emotion in the same way. There are those who are steady, but still emotionally expressive, while there are others who are steady and emotionally unexpressive. And there are, of course, the drama kings and queens, as well as those who simply don’t know how to not feel, and not show what they’re feeling. I don’t care which one you are, and you shouldn’t care which one someone else is, either. Different people react differently. Accept it and get over it.

It’s almost the end of the year – only three days left of 2017, to be exact. This same time last year, I thought that I would be in a different place than where I am. I had plans to be published, to have my work featured in a literary magazine, and for all of my efforts – which I will admit, have not always been consistent – I haven’t gotten to where I wanted to be. But I have gotten to where I need to be.

Somewhere between March and June this year, don’t ask for specifics because my mind just does not retain that kind of real life detail, I began a collaboration project with an author I truly admire and respect. It is my first collaboration project, and it has been very near and dear to my heart. We’ve had our pitfalls, we’ve had our successes, but more than that, we’ve each pushed the boundaries for the other.

I’ve become a better writer, learned how to show more than I ever did before, and as an angst writer, that means that I get to tear out the hearts of my readers all the more completely and leave them as nothing more than gooey piles of emotional turmoil. When I get a comment from a reader or beta that tells me I made them “ugly cry” I do a little dance. Not gonna lie, it feels pretty damn good to know that I can make someone feel the very depth of the heartache my characters are feeling.

I’ve also learned what it’s like to compromise, and as hard as it is – how to swallow my pride. It isn’t easy, I’ll tell you that right now. I’m a dead-center Capricorn, and pride is something I have in abundance, as is stubbornness. And I know that this means when I am passionate about something, I will lock horns and stay locked until the bitter end. And the person I’m collaborating with? Well, she’s a Capricorn, too, but she’s on the cusp of Aquarius.

Stubborn. Prideful. Arrogant, at times. Unwilling to bend. These are things that can describe both of us, as are: Passion, and fear.

You see, as writers, those worlds we create define us, define who we are, and even how we think of ourselves, and if that’s threatened in any manner, we can turn mean real quick. But on the flip side of that is a passion that drives us to distraction and knows no boundaries, no stopping points. We will write and create until we have absolutely nothing left to give, not even our own breath. But for as much passion as we have, and as much love as we have for what we do, we are also so very afraid that someone is going to look at the work we’ve done and tell us it’s shit. Pardon my French.

I had a point to this, or at least I think I did when I started writing it. It’s 03:37 here in the Pacific Northwest, so forgive me if my thoughts wander away from me. The only thing I can really tell you is this:

No matter what you do in life, always be open to learning more about yourself, and your craft, and don’t ever go into something thinking that you already know everything there is to know, because you don’t. Even Dr. Who is constantly learning new things.

Swallow your pride, even when you really don’t want to and especially when you know that you’re on the right side of the argument, because sometimes, being right isn’t worth losing what you’re fighting for.

And lastly, being able to compromise might feel like you’ve given in or given up, but really it’s about meeting in the middle and having just enough of what you’re willing to accept. Just remember, do you’re best to make sure that the compromise you make isn’t unfairly balanced one way or the other, or you (or someone else) will end up feeling like you’ve been forced into something you never wanted in the first place.

Places I want to visit

In the middle of nowhere, set amongst a backdrop of lush greenery, located on the banks of the tranquil Punggol Serangoon Reservoir, Whisk & Paddle ticks all the away-from-the-bustling-city boxes, plus they dish up some good grub and lip-smacking beverages to make any discerning foodie want to fork out some serious cash here. With such […]

via Whisk & Paddle @ Tebing Lane, Singapore // For nature lovers with a penchant for waterfront dining — ANGIE & JAMES DO STUFF

My Two Cents

Everyone has been weighing in their thoughts on the election, what happened, and what’s going to happen as a result of Trump’s win. I’ve been asked what I think on it all, and to be honest, I don’t know. It’s all still sinking in, and to realize that what happened isn’t some kind of cosmic joke. I don’t know what will happen in the next four years, and I can’t even start to predict what kind of president Trump will be. He’s not someone I would welcome into my home, let alone into the most powerful position in the country I live in, but he has been voted in. It’s a decision that the American people will have to live with.

I’m not here to tell you how terrible I think he will be, or what direction I think this country is headed in. There are so many other people already doing so, that there is no need for me to follow suit. But what I will share with you are my thoughts on how it happened, and how we as a whole can do better. But before I get to that, I do want to say this:

I have seen the news stories, the YouTube videos, and the social media posts about the riots in the streets. I agree that we need a revolution, that has never been more obvious than it is now, but I don’t agree with how people are going about it. Protesting in the streets gets the anger heard, yes, but it also makes us as a nation look like a fool. A revolution is not won by the people screaming and creating wars in the streets, but by the people who are working in the background to make the world around them a better place. This is not a time for violence, but a time to put our minds together and create a better future for ourselves, and our children.

This is how I see it.

There are a lot of people asking how it was possible that Trump won the election, especially considering that he lost the popular vote. There are a few factors that go into this, the first of it being the electoral college vote. In order to become president, a candidate only needs to receive 279 electoral college votes. This is how it is possible to win the popular vote, the citizen’s vote, but lose the election. To many, myself included, this does not seem to be an example of democracy. There are over 6 Billion people in the contiguous United States, but of that number only 279 votes matter.

The Electoral College

According to the dictionary, “(In the US) The electoral college is a body of people representing the states of the US, who formally cast votes for the election of the president and vice president.” Essentially, the electoral college is the Congress of Voters. They represent themselves, their own interests, but they do not actually represent the people they are voting for. They do not have any “Electoral College Alumni” website with a “Who should I vote for?” poll that allows the general public to select who they want voted in. And just the same as any member of Congress, or Senate, the members of the Electoral College can be bought.

Perhaps they are only important once every four years, but once is enough for someone to make that person an invested interest. Think I’m off base on that? Ask the FBI to run as detailed an investigation into each member of the E.C. as they did into Trump. I’ll wager they will find more than a little corruption, and a lot of money changing hands. That’s how politics works – in any country. It’s all about who can be bought, and who wins the bidding war to buy them off. This isn’t supposition, or me being cynical. It is sadly, the very real truth. But here’s another truth. If the electoral college member votes against their state’s party, they have to pay a fine. This “fine”, or penalty, is the political equivalent of the “leg breakers” mafias around the world employ.

Want to read more about the Electoral College? Follow this link: https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html

 

Hate Sells

If there is one thing that this Presidential Campaign and Election has revealed to America, and to the world, it is that hate sells. We like to say that we are evolved, that “we as a people” are open minded and progressive, but the truth is we aren’t. At least not the vast majority of us. For those who like to say that racism in America is not as big of an issue as it was fifty years ago, they are undeniably wrong. And it is the Trump supporters who have displayed this truth the most.

If you go on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, even personal websites, and news blogs, you will find that throughout the life of the campaign, and more so since the election happened, the hate crimes in America have gone up. Those who hold hate in their hearts and take enjoyment from the pain and humiliation of others are not only more public about it now, but they truly believe they have been given a free pass to be outwardly hateful, and violent towards others by Donald Trump. And the sad truth of it is, it’s only been one day since he became President-Elect. It will only get worse from here.

Donald Trump formed his campaign speeches as rallies. He did not speak to how he would make this country better. He did not speak to how he would advance the education of our children, or science and technology. Nor, did he speak about how he would empower our youth, or protect the women of this country. What he did do was issue one hate filled speech after another, telling white Americans that racism, sexism, rape, xenophobia, bigotry, and hate were not only acceptable, but that these things were their divine rights that the government had taken away over the past fifty years.

And when did this recession of hate start? 1960 with the election of JFK. JFK was one of the most vocal presidents concerned with civil rights, women’s rights, gender and racial equality, and he was killed because of it. President John F Kennedy’s Presidential Campaign Platform.

Each rally became more fervent in its rhetoric, and from the news reports and personal accounts already seen regarding hate crimes from that range in action from bullying in schools to violent crimes in the streets. Sources include, but are not limited to:

NBC New York

The Guardian

Think Progress

 

So now what?

I’m sure there are those of you reading this who are asking yourselves, “so now what?”. Now, my dear readers, it is time to make some changes. Stop the protesting in the streets, and get down to the real work.

 

Congressional and Political Reform

The first, and one of the most important things we need to work on, is Congressional Reform. This does not only apply to members of Congress, but also to the House of Representatives, and the Senate. Senators can serve an unlimited number of six year terms, and Congressmen and women, as well as members of the House, can serve an unlimited number of two year terms. What this means is that once elected, these members of the government generally stay in power for life, or until they decide to run for a higher office.

To quote Mark Twain, “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.”

In the 1990’s there was a legislation on the ballot to limit Congressional terms in office. This legislation would have limited Congress to two terms only, a total of twelve years at most. This legislation was not passed. This legislation needs to come back onto the ballots, and it needs to pass. There is a petition that has been circulating for a while to get this issue back up for a vote.

There needs to be legislation also to limit the terms for members of the House of Representatives, The Senate, and the US Supreme Court justices. We also need legislation that clearly, without the possibility of loopholes to exploit, define campaign finance, maximum donations from private donors, and limit, if not outright ban, the donations allowed from businesses. And for those of you who believe the Chamber of Commerce is the ones to set these limits, you’re going to want to do your research. The Chamber of Commerce is actually one of the biggest sources of campaign finance for big business.

The Chamber of Commerce is not a government agency, nor has it ever been, a government agency. In fact, the Chamber of Commerce was created by, run by, and for big business. As written on their website: “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business organization representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions. Our members range from mom-and-pop shops and local chambers to leading industry associations and large corporations. They all share one thing—they count on the Chamber to be their voice in Washington, D.C.” – https://www.uschamber.com/about-us/about-the-us-chamber

For those of you who appreciate a more visual take on such things, you should watch a documentary called Hot  Coffee. In it, this documentary starts with the story of the woman who sued McDonald’s because she was burned (3rd degree, full thickness burns) by their coffee, and goes through the story of the Chamber of Commerce. It is very revealing, and something I would recommend everyone watch.

 

Campaign Changes

As it stands now, presidential candidates are only on the campaign trail for approximately 180 days. That’s not as long as you might think. Six months. That’s it. On top of that, how campaign trails begin is with big speeches in planned locations. This marketing strategy, if you will, is not as effective as people seem to think it is. Here’s what I’m proposing:

1- Start Small and Start Early

As Social Media becomes a bigger part of the lives of the mass population, political candidates need to use it. Within the first year of a new president’s reign is when someone needs to begin their campaign. How would they do this, you ask. Start small, and keep it simple. Get yourself a Social Media Marketing Manager, and task them with pushing out targeted questionnaires on Facebook, Tumblr, WordPress, and the like.

These questionnaires should start very simply. Ten questions at the most, and only one essay question. Create a series of yes/no, or multiple choice questions regarding current policy and how, or if, it should be changed. At the end of that survey, have your essay question. Something simple like “If there was one thing you could change, what would it be and why?”

Don’t skimp on the why. The why is the most important part. A lot of people feel left out, or unheard, and part of your research needs to be to learn what they want changed, and why they want it changed. Is it a law, or legislation they don’t agree with? Is it a federal issue, state, or county? Why, and how, do they want this thing to be changed? Is what the person has listed something that you, as a candidate could implement? Is it something you could speak to, or pass on to the appropriate party that could look into it?

2 – Listen and Take Note

Celebrities, specifically musicians and actors, talk to their fans in a way that politicians don’t. They take our questions and speak to us through live Facebook chats, YouTube interviews, Google+ Hangouts, and live Tweeting sessions during the airing of the shows (this is specific to actors). When they do this, their fans (in this case, your supporters) feel as though their voice matters. Even if not everyone’s questions get answered, or their comments get mentioned, there is still the feeling that your voice has been heard.

As a politician, you need a real sense of what your supporters, and the public in general, think about the world they live in. Sessions like this should start two years before, and continue up until you go on the campaign trail. I would recommend hosting these sessions at least once a month. You will reach more people, be able to hear the thoughts of the average person, and the people who feel forgotten will find they have a voice again. Doing this will not only add to your research, but it will also strengthen your public image.

3 – Be Seen and Be Real

I know that it’s easy to throw money at a cause. Believe me, I do it myself. I donate to organizations like The Audubon Society, the World Wildlife Fund, The Crane Foundation, and Northwest Wilderness. Each person who can, tries to donate $5 – $25 to an organization, or cause that matters to them. But here’s the thing, you’re the public figure, the face that would be representing our country should you be elected president.

Instead of donating money to a charity, go out there and work with them. Volunteer with the organizations that matter to you. PAWS, PRIDE Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Wounded Warrior Project, The Blue Ribbon Project, Random Acts, and so many more organizations get the most support from their volunteers. Go to your local homeless shelters and soup kitchens. Get out there with the other volunteers and participate like anyone else. Get your hands dirty, get your heart broken, feel what they feel, and see what they see. Show them that you’re a real person to, and that you do truly care.

4 – Remind people that Ignorance is a choice.

Encourage people to seek answers, empower them to do their own research. Too many people get their information from FOX News, US Weekly, and The Globe. Not only are these sources well beyond anything that could be defined as biased, but more often than not, their “information” is fictional at best. Teach them to seek out sources that will be honest, unbiased, and will do their research to prove that what they are reporting is accurate. If at all possible, get the information directly from the source. Look for interviews on YouTube, in magazines such as People, or

 

By the time that you are actually on your official campaign trail, your supporters will know you, feel that you hear their voices and concerns, and you will have a much better idea of who you are representing. If this election has taught me nothing else, it’s taught me that our politicians, as good and well meaning as they may be, really don’t know their supporters. You don’t know enough about them to truly speak to them.

Trump was able to win because he sold hate, and built off the anger of those who felt forgotten. The important thing to remember is this: when people feel unheard, or left behind, the only voice they will listen to is often the one that is the angriest. Anger is louder and more binding than reason. That is why there are such things as “Mob mentality”. The only way to combat this, is by making people feel that they are important.

Listen. Learn. Relate. Reform.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. Thanks for reading.

Falling Into the Story

Assassin’s Creed. That’s right, today I’m talking to you about a video game. Now, I’m not a big gamer by nature. It’s never really been my thing, but my roommate loves that game to pieces. I’ve watched her play it time after time, and it actually has me intrigued. The game itself has this completely fascinating story arc that draws you in. Even if you’re just sitting there and watching someone else play, stick around to watch the cut scenes sometime.

You’ve got this guy, this one person in a sea of thousands, who’s just trying to right a wrong and bring deserving punishment to the guilty. Most games have a heroic arc, but this one engages you. You fall into the story, and maybe it’s just me, but I think this is a game that was written by a writer, for a writer. There are so many different angles and twists that can happen.

The game seems to ask the player this one simple question: When you’re the only one who sees the truth, and you have the power to stand up in defense of the subjugated, will you do it, or will you hide in the shadows?

Should you pick it up and try your hand at the game, I’d say go for “Brotherhood”, or “Syndicate”. They really are quite fascinating.

How Ordering Cookies From Godiva Will Save Your Summer

It’s hot. It’s muggy. You’re trying to keep your cool, but the hotter it gets, the crankier you get. We’ve all been there. Trust me, I am one of the worst offenders of this pattern. I don’t like heat. Anything over a breezy seventy-two degrees outside is a hard and angry ‘No’ for me. It’s probably why I’ve taken so well to living in the Pacific Northwest. For the most part, our summers are mild, until it hits July, and then it’s like someone turned on the damn oven.

What does any of this have to do with cookies, let alone Godiva? Well, kids, listen up because I’m about to share my best kept #Lifehack secret with you.

When you order a treat from Godiva.com, between February and November, you get a free prize in the box. What’s that, you ask? Ice packs. That’s right, I said ice packs. You see, when Godiva ships you something they want to make sure it doesn’t melt while it’s waiting for you to retrieve it. So, as part of the shipping materials, they pack a Styrofoam cooler with anywhere from one to three ice packs depending on what time of year it is. The closer to summer, the more ice packs. And, as an added bonus, you can take everything out of that cooler inside the cardboard box it all comes in, and keep it as a mini cooler to store in the car with ice and a few drinks.

Those ice packs are not only reusable, but they are large and durable. What exactly is my summer Lifehack for those ice packs? You know how disgustingly hot the inside of your car gets in the summer? I mean, it just makes you angry, and unless you’ve got an auto start for your car, you’re going to be miserably hot while you wait for the interior to cool down. You know those ice packs I was talking about? As any logical person would do, I keep them in my freezer. During the summer, I grab one on my way out the door, and tuck it between the small of my back and the car seat. It helps to keep me cool, and those ice packs last a long time.

No joke. I take them shopping with me, or when I go to the movies. I leave them in the hot car while I’m in the store, or at the movies, and when I come out that same ice pack still has a huge chunk of icy goodness inside of it. I tuck it right back in its place between me and the car when I first get in, and move it once I no longer need it. And when I get home, right back in the freezer it goes. It’s perfect! And, if you’re as accident prone as I am, you’ve got an ice pack on hand year round for those miscellaneous injuries you find yourself with.

Ok, so we’ve talked about the ice packs. But what does any of this have to do with cookies? Well, my darlings, the cookies are the best part. Specifically, these cookies. You get a collection of milk and dark chocolate cookies that are bite sized and individually wrapped. So, for those of you trying to keep that beautiful bikini body, or doing your best to get in shape with programs like P90x, Fit In 10, Weight Watchers, and the like; those little individually wrapped cookies are the perfect little treat. You can pack them in your lunch, pop one in your purse, keep a few in your desk at work, and you’ve got an easy reward on hand for all your hard work.

But, you don’t have to take my word for it. Stop by Godiva.com today and order yourself a tin of those cookies. Keep the box and cooler they come in, pop those ice packs in your freezer, and enjoy those cookies. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Upcoming Writing Contests

Information care of Poet’s & Writer’s Magazine

Link to Poet’s and Writer’s Magazine

 

Sponsor and Award Entry Fee Genre Cash Prize Prize includes Application Deadline
New Millennium Writings
New Millennium Awards

Four prizes of $1,000 each and publication in New Millennium Writings and on the journal’s website are given twice yearly for a poem, a short story, a short short story, and an essay that have…

$20 Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction $1,000 Publication 7/31/16
Journal of Experimental Fiction
Kenneth Patchen Award

A prize of $1,000 and publication by Journal of Experimental Fiction/Depth Charge Publishing is given annually for an innovative novel. Dominic Ward will judge. Submit a manuscript of any length…

$25 Fiction $1,000 Publication 7/31/16
Narrative
Spring Story Contest

A prize of $2,500 and publication in Narrative is given annually for a short story, a short short story, an essay, or an excerpt from a work of fiction or creative nonfiction. A second-place…

$24 Fiction, Creative Nonfiction $2,500 Publication 7/31/16
Press 53
Award for Poetry

A prize of $1,000 and publication by Press 53 is given annually for a poetry collection. Tom Lombardo will judge. Submit a manuscript of 60 to 120 pages with a $30 entry fee by July 31. Visit the website…

$30 Poetry $1,000 Publication 7/31/16
Munster Literature Centre
Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition

A prize of €2,000 (approximately $2,260) and publication in Southword, an online literary journal published in Cork, Ireland, is given annually for a short story. The winner also receives a…

$17 Fiction $2,260 Publication 7/31/16
Delaware Division of the Arts
Individual Artist Fellowships

Established Professional Fellowships of $6,000 each and Emerging Artist Fellowships of $3,000 each are given annually to Delaware poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers who have lived in…

$0 Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction $6,000 8/1/16
Leeway Foundation
Art and Change Grants

Project grants of up to $2,500 each are given twice yearly by the Leeway Foundation to women and transsexual, transgender, genderqueer, or otherwise gender-nonconforming poets, fiction writers, and…

$0 Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction $2,500 8/1/16
PEN Center USA
Emerging Voices Fellowships

Five fellowships of $1,000 each are given annually to emerging poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. The fellowships are given to writers who are “isolated from the literary…

$10 Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction $1,000 8/1/16
Malahat Review
Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Prize

A prize of $1,000 Canadian (approximately $780) and publication in Malahat Review is given annually for an essay. Submit an essay of 2,000 to 3,000 words with a $40 entry fee, which includes a…

$40 Creative Nonfiction $1,000 Publication 8/1/16
StoryQuarterly
Nonfiction Prize

A prize of $1,000 and publication in StoryQuarterly is given annually for a work of creative nonfiction. Using the online submission system, submit an essay of up to 6,250 words with a $15 entry…

$15 Fiction, Creative Nonfiction $1,000 Publication 8/1/16
Gival Press
Short Story Award

A prize of $1,000 and publication on the Gival Press website is given annually for a short story. Submit a story of 5,000 to 15,000 words with a $25 entry fee by August 8. Send an SASE, call, e-mail, or…

$25 Fiction $1,000 Publication 8/8/16
Indiana Review
“1/2 K” Prize

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Indiana Review is given annually for a poem or a work of flash fiction or nonfiction of up to 500 words. Aimee Nezhukumatathil will judge. Submit up to three…

$20 Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction $1,000 Publication 8/15/16
Baton Rouge Area Foundation
Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

A prize of $10,000 is given annually to an emerging African American writer for a short story collection or novel published in the current year. The winner will also receive travel and lodging expenses…

$0 Fiction $10,000 8/15/16
New Guard
Poetry and Fiction Contest

Two prizes of $1,500 each and publication in New Guard are given annually for a poem and a short story or novel excerpt. Stephen Dunn will judge the Knightville Poetry Contest; Sarah Braunstein…

$20 Poetry, Fiction $1,500 Publication 8/15/16
Grayson Books
Poetry Prize

A prize of $1,000 and publication by Grayson Books is given annually for a poetry collection. Benjamin S. Grossberg will judge. Submit a manuscript of 50 to 80 pages with a $25 entry fee by August 15….

$25 Poetry $1,000 Publication 8/15/16
Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales
Poetry Prize

A prize of $500, publication by Broadkill River Press, ten author copies, and two cases of Dogfish Head craft beer are given annually for a poetry collection written by a poet living in Delaware,…

$0 Poetry $500 Reading, Publication 8/15/16
Glimmer Train Press
Fiction Open

A prize of $3,000, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of the prize issue is given twice yearly for a short story. A second-place prize of $1,000 is also given. Using the online…

$21 Fiction $3,000 Publication 8/31/16
Glimmer Train Press
Very Short Fiction Award

A prize of $2,000, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of the prize issue is given twice yearly for a short short story. Using the online submission system, submit a story of 300…

$16 Fiction $2,000 Publication 8/31/16
Gemini Magazine
Flash Fiction Contest

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Gemini Magazine is given annually for a short short story. The editors will judge. Submit a story of up to 1,000 words with a $5 entry fee ($4 for each…

$5 Fiction $1,000 Publication 8/31/16
Utica College
Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize

A prize of $2,000 is given annually for a poetry collection by a resident of upstate New York. The winner will also give a reading and teach a master class at Utica College in April 2017. Submit two…

$0 Poetry $2,000 Reading 8/31/16
Snake Nation Press
Serena McDonald Kennedy Award

A prize of $1,000 and publication by Snake Nation Press is given annually for a short story collection or a novella. Submit a story collection of up to 200 pages or a novella of up to 50,000 words with a…

$25 Fiction $1,000 Publication 8/31/16
Snake Nation Press
Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry

A prize of $1,000 and publication by Snake Nation Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Submit a manuscript of 75 to 100 pages with a $25 entry fee by August 31. E-mail or visit the website…

$25 Poetry $1,000 Publication 8/31/16
Gulf Coast
Barthelme Prize for Short Prose

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Gulf Coast is given annually for a piece of short prose. Jim Shepard will judge. Submit a prose poem, a piece of flash fiction, or a micro-essay of up to 500…

$18 Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction $1,000 Publication 8/31/16
Gulf Coast
Prize in Translation

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Gulf Coast is given in alternating years for a group of poems or a prose excerpt translated from any language into English. The 2016 prize will be given for…

$18 Poetry $1,000 Publication 8/31/16
Black Lawrence Press
St. Lawrence Book Award

A prize of $1,000 and publication by Black Lawrence Press is given annually for a debut collection of poems or short stories. The editors will judge. Using the online submission system, submit a poetry…

$25 Poetry, Fiction $1,000 Publication 8/31/16
Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center
Poetry Contest

A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a poem. Winners and finalists will be invited to read at Beyond Baroque in Venice, California, in April 2017. Submit up to four poems of no more than 40 lines each…

$20 Poetry $1,000 9/1/16
Black Warrior Review
Writing Contests

Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Black Warrior Review are given annually for a poem, a short story, and an essay. Hoa Nguyen will judge in poetry, Sofia Samatar will judge in…

$20 Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction $1,000 Publication 9/1/16
Red Hen Press
Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award

A prize of $3,000, publication by Red Hen Press, and a four-week residency at PLAYA in Summer Lake, Oregon, is given annually for a poetry collection. Afaa Michael Weaver will judge. Submit a manuscript…

$25 Poetry $3,000 Publication, Residency 9/1/16
phren-Z
Morton Marcus Poetry Contest

Sponsored in collaboration with Santa Cruz Writes, a prize of $1,000 and publication in phren-Z is given annually for a poem. The winner is also invited to give a reading at the seventh annual…

$15 Poetry $1,000 Reading, Publication 9/1/16
Red Hen Press
Fiction and Nonfiction Awards

Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication by Red Hen Press are given annually for a short story collection or novel and an essay collection or memoir. Steve Almond will judge in fiction; Pope Brock will…

$20 Fiction, Creative Nonfiction $1,000 Publication 9/1/16
Slippery Elm
Prizes in Poetry and Prose

Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Slippery Elm are given annually for a poem and a short story or essay. Using the online submission system, submit up to three poems of any length or…

$15 Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction $1,000 Publication 9/1/16
Sustainable Arts Foundation
Writing Awards

Up to five awards of $6,000 each and up to five Promise Awards of $2,000 each are given twice yearly to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers with children. Writers with at least one…

$15 Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction $6,000 9/2/16
Dogwood
Literary Prize

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Dogwood is given annually for a poem, a short story, or an essay. Submit up to three poems totaling no more than 10 pages or up to 22 pages of prose with a $…

$10 Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction $1,000 Publication 9/5/16
Farmingdale State College
Paumanok Poetry Award

A prize of $1,500 and travel and lodging expenses to give a reading at Farmingdale State College is given annually for a group of poems. Submit three to five published or unpublished poems totaling no…

$25 Poetry $1,500 Reading 9/15/16
Red Mountain Press
Poetry Prize

A prize of $1,000 and publication by Red Mountain Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Sarah Sousa will judge. Submit a manuscript of 48 to 72 pages with a $30 entry fee ($28 for electronic…

$30 Poetry $1,000 Publication 9/15/16
Red Hen Press
Graphic Novel Award

A prize of $1,000 and publication by Red Hen Press is given annually for a graphic novel. Kate Gale will judge. Submit a manuscript of 75 to 200 pages with a $25 entry fee by October 31, 2016. Call or…

$25 Fiction $1,000 Publication 10/31/16
A Room of Her Own Foundation
Gift of Freedom Award

A prize of $50,000 is given biennially to a female poet, fiction writer, or creative nonfiction writer to complete a project for publication over a two-year period. The top finalist in each of the two…

$45 Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction $50,000 Publication 11/2/16

Anpan あんパン (Japanese Sweet Red Bean Buns)

ANGIE & JAMES DO STUFF

Red Bean Buns

I’ve been craving bread. Sweet and impeccably soft Japanese bread in particular. Not quite sure what started this recent desire for pillowy soft buns, but with a severe lack of Japanese bakeries on the Gold Coast, I’ve been forced to get into the kitchen and bake whenever the craving strikes. I guess that’s not such a bad thing.

Anko, Red Bean PasteDoughDough

Anpan are essentially delicious Japanese bread rolls filled with sweet, moist, melt-in-your-mouth anko (red bean paste), and honestly, they taste much better when baked at home. Nothing beats warm, fluffy, fresh-out-of-the-oven anpan! That satisfaction when you bite into one and find that gooey, sticky, sweet red bean centre… so indescribably good.

Anko, Red Bean PasteFilling the BunsFilled Buns

If you’ve never had anko before, it’s a rather dense paste made by boiling and mashing earthy red beans (also known as azuki beans). The paste is then sweetened with sugar. It is a very popular ingredient featured widely in asian desserts…

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