Sunday, September 12, 2004
I recently read an article online that really got my nerves on the fritz. The article started out with a story of a New
York family moving out to the country, trying to have a "simpler life." But, apparently, they were under the impression that
a "simpler life" would just not be complete without the many materialistic items they enjoyed splurging their money on back
in the city: Name brand clothes, the latest tech gear, fancy cars and expensive furniture.
So much for the simpler life!
It went on to say that parents nowadays are splurging on their children, buying them excessive amounts of toys, clothes,
techno gadgets, cars, etc. I even balked at a parent spending $200 on a pair of shoes. SHOES!! I was further dismayed to read
that these parents find it difficult to say "no" the next time their kids ask for something that costs a pretty penny.
Now while I empathized with their "I had a hard childhood and I don't want my kids to have it hard, too" message these
parents were saying, I could not believe that they were driving themselves into debt over making their kids happy by buying
them every single thing they asked for.
And, really, are they REALLY happy even after that? Too often, the kids keep asking (and expecting) to get more, more,
Also, I understand their wanting their kids to have the latest (and best) of everything, but some things just seem
a little unnecessary. I mean, REALLY: Does a 6-year-old HAVE to have a cell phone? Or another pony? It just doesn't make sense.
During the earlier part of my being a first-time mom, I did buy into that "your child MUST have this and this and that"
sort of attitude. Then I learned that the less-expensive products worked just as good (if not better). I also had to learn
the hard way that my child does not need EVERY SINGLE TOY UNDER THE SUN, every book for her age group, a dozen pair of shoes,
the most expensive playground equipment or her own island. And she doesn't have these things. And, you know, she is STILL
a happy kid. She still laughs, plays, enjoys the little things and learns just fine.
But don't EVEN call me a bad parent just because I won't buy her everything she wants. Yes, I DO happen to know
what it's like being a kid doing without and not having what all of the other kids have. I've been there, but I'm not the
worst for it. In fact, I truly think it is BECAUSE of that experience that makes me appreciate the more simpler things in
life. The TRUE simpler things: Family time, togetherness, hard work, inner beauty, simplicity and fairness. I have also seen
the end result of kids who got everything they wanted. They turned into selfish brats. Really, selfish brats. They relied
only on INSTANT gratification and this became a drug for them. A drug they were extremely addicted to.
I choose NOT to splurge on my child. Sure, she may have a lot of toys now, but you know what? I'm not breaking the
bank buying her more toys. I'm not giving in to her every whim. I'm not letting her have whatever she wants. I'm
not doing those things, because I love her. Because I want her to grow up understanding that sometimes, you DON'T get
everything you want in life. That, sometimes, you have to EARN things. And just because Mom and Dad have extra money, that
doesn't mean it's paying for a cell phone or $200 shoes.
I feel sorry for those parents who can't say "no" to their kids. I especially feel sorry for their kids, too. Because
no matter how much they fail to realize this now, getting everything they want right now means they will have even less of
the more important things later.
Sunday, July 25, 2004
I was recently a part of a discussion at the Absolute Write Water Cooler. The thread started out innocently
enough, with someone posting an idea for a writing challenge. Someone happened to come along and say "REAL writers don't need
gimmicks like that to get writing." While this is true, it ended up opening a can of worms, because somebody else came along
and said, "If you are not making enough money from your writing each year to claim it on your tax return, you are not a real
writer." To say the least, this angered me to no end. I could not say this word on the board, but I will say it here: BULLSHIT!!!
I cannot believe that someone would measure the worth or validation of a "writer" based on their income. Perhaps this
is what that particular writer feels since she is able to pay taxes from her writing income each year, but that doesn't mean
it's true. As I said on the board, this was HER opinion. IT WAS NOT A FACT! And, oh, the government would just LOVE to
have another innocent taxpayer to go after, wouldn't they?
I will NOT let the government decide whether or not I am a writer. I KNOW I am a writer. I've got my
books, articles, stories and poems to prove that I am a writer. I've got the BIC I'm doing EACH AND EVERY DAY TO WRITE to
prove that I am a writer. I'VE GOT THE MANY YEARS I HAVE SPENT ACTUALLY WRITING TO PROVE I AM A WRITER!!!
I am not some yokel scribbling a bunch of random words once a while, going around telling people I am a writer. I'm not
some hack who paid to have my book published, going around telling people I am a writer (or author). I am not some blowhard
writing love letters, going around telling people I am a writer.
I AM ACTUALLY, 100 PER CENT, A WRITER!!! SCREW THE IRS!! I'M A FREAKING, BONA FIDE WRITER!!!
I am writing this rant not to "prove" to that idiot that I am a writer. I am writing this rant because I am so freaking
SICK of people clumping SERIOUS writers into the same group as the hacks, wannabes and vanity-published jokers going around
saying they're writers even though they are not. I am sick of people taking on a holier-than-thou attitude to anybody who
makes LESS than them or has LESS work published than THEY do and treating us like dirt. I am sick of all of the writers who
MADE IT throwing darts at anybody trying to make it, too.
I told this person that she, herself, used to be the same way as all of those people she is busy putting down. She
herself was once unpublished. She herself was once struggling to make it, to get her name into print. And now that she
has made it, that doesn't give her the right to put down ANYONE trying to do the same thing. What, did she just spend ONE
DAY writing her play, selling it to make enough money to declare it on her tax return and then she called herself a writer?
NO!! She was a writer WHEN SHE WAS WRITING THAT PLAY!! BEFORE SHE EVEN SOLD IT!!!
I have written two nonfiction books that are in the process of getting published. But before they have made a SINGLE
DIME in sales, did I consider myself a writer WHILE I was writing them?? YES!!!
I was a writer then. I am still a writer now. Tax returns be damned!
Sunday, January 18, 2004
I have nothing against loaning people money. Believe me, I used to have it hard, living off of Ramen Noodles and scrounging
for change under couch cushions. So I know how it is to not to have any money.
My beef, though, is how people choose to pay me back that money.
My younger brother normally pays back money we loan him with buying us the grocery equivalent, which is the only way
he can. And I forgive him for this. But I'm talking about people who say "why don't I buy you lunch and we'll call it even?"
or "I bought you this book that costs the same amount that I owe you." While it's always nice to get a free lunch and even
more nicer to get a free book, it just makes me want to grind my teeth because, like with everything else, I now see money
differently ever since I became a parent. I have to think twice before spending money because I have to ask myself, "Do
we have enough milk? Does the baby need diapers? Does she need new shoes?"
I think it's ridiculous that people would consider doing something useless for me in their attempt to pay me back money
they owe. If they want to do something useful with the money, they can buy us a gallon of milk, get a gift card to Wal-Mart
or offer to babysit for free (just so that I could get some sleep!!!). Just don't use the money you owe me to get me a free
lunch. As a parent, I might need it to buy milk or shoes instead.
Sunday, January 11, 2004
Jen and I recently had our pictures taken for a magazine which is going to be publishing an essay I wrote. For the picture,
my mother offered to dispatch my sister, Elizabeth, to my house to do the unasked-for hair coiffing and make-up primming for
the pictures. Yet I declined. In my family, I am known as someone who "does not like make-up." (Many apologies to Michael
Maron!!) And even as I have worn it for previous "special occasion" photos (complete with fancy clothes), I have decided that
now is the time to "step up to the plate" and honor my feelings about make-up.
I DO NOT LIKE MAKE-UP! PERIOD, END OF THE STORY. I DO NOT LIKE IT!
If I choose not to wear any make-up for a picture, that is my choice. I don't care if somebody thinks my blackheads should
be covered up or if there is a tiny pimple just beginning to grow on my chin. I will not wear make-up because I do not believe
in the vanity of "prettying myself up" for what the world wants to see. I am not a vain person. I wear what I want to wear
and make-up just happens to be something which I do not like to wear. It's not my problem if people think otherwise; they
are entitled to their own opinions.
I have always been a "naturalist." I want what is natural and simple. Nothing that is artificial or fake. And my
skin is the most natural as it comes. Of course my refusal to wear make-up means I must take excellent care of my skin and
I do. I am not proud of the fact that I have third degree burns on my face but I am proud of the fact that I survived
how I got those burns. And some may see this as my way of being "proud" of being a burn survivor. Be that as it may, I won't
cave in to what the rest of the world wants me to look like, because until my dying day, I will present myself in whatever
way that I want myself to look like.
Sunday, December 28, 2003
My latest poetry chapbook, Topiary Dreams, was published by evil-book.com. The publisher, David Roth (not David
Lee Roth), and I kept in contact via e-mail about the book, the business and general goings-on. One of the things that Dave
and I talked about was his book, evi1. Communicating with authors about their books is nothing new to me but what
made this different was that Dave shared with me some problems he was having because of his book. Now, I will admit that his book
is high on the violence scale and it also has scenes of rape and drug addiction, as well as a good portion of foul language.
But it is fiction, plain and simple. It is a STORY, NOT REAL. A tale weaved only from the imagination of a man named
David Roth, who is not David Lee Roth. (I'm being sarcastic here in emphasizing the very fact that he is not a celebrity.
You will see why in a minute.)
Now, Dave received A LOT of criticism because of his book. A lot. Especially from people at his work, who he claimed
were "Jesus freaks." He received rude postings on his message board and his home was even burglarized. In the end, he
was forced to shut down evil-book.com (even after he took his book off the site!!), bury his novel and move away. He has completely
changed everything about his life in order to salvage some kind of peace and security that he lost.
I recently told my mom all about this. She was, like me, dismayed and disgusted over these events. She asked, "Why did
this happen? It was only a story. Why did those people treat him like that?"
And I said, "I don't know, Mom. I guess since his name isn't Stephen King, he's not allowed to write stuff like
Stephen King, the "king" of horror. What a freaking joke. I've seen worse stuff than his, written by people who have
never been published. And probably never will be because of the very fact that they are NOT Stephen King. I can't help
but wonder if Stephen King has some kind of fanatical group spread out across the country to suppress anyone who might
sell something that is better than his stuff. Like Dave's book. I bet the only reason he got this kind of
reaction is because he is NOT somebody famous whose job it is to scare the you-know-what out of people.
Dave told me that what he wanted to see in books was something that would make his jaw drop, do a number in his pants
and boggle the mind. That is exactly the kind of affect that his book had with me (well, not literally!). But because
his name isn't Stephen King, or even David Lee Roth, he'll never get that chance with his own book.
Sunday, December 14, 2003
Last night, as Jennifer was watching A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV, I was behind her on the couch, snuggled
up with a book to read. I looked up from my reading to see Lucy cry out, "We all know that Christmas is just a big commercialized
scheme to get people to spend more money!" (I am paraphrasing Ms. Lucy because I don't want to get sued!)
I put down my book and exclaimed in disbelief, "What?!"
Doesn't anybody celebrate Christmas for what it's really for anymore?? I know some people don't celebrate Christmas because
of differing beliefs. But for those who do, whatever the heck happened to celebrating the birth of Christ? Giving to others??
Spending time together as a family??????
Christmas is not about buying everything and having everything! Contrary to what's being advertised in magazines or
on TV, it's not about getting expensive gifts, shopping like madpeople, decorating your house with the most expensive and
beautiful decorations and the world's largest tree, complete with thousands of expensive gifts underneath. It's not about
how many decorations you can dress up the outside of your house with, although it can be fodder for a good laugh. (Who here
can recall the scene in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, where Clark goes through many mishaps to get the Christmas
lights up and then working?)
It's about sharing. It's about love. It's about being together with your family, enjoying the wintry weather, having cocoa
in front of a fire, making snow angels and snowmen. It's about taking the time to make something to give to another person,
something that they could really use (and not just want). It's not about how much money you spend; it's about how you spend
it. It's not about what you get; it's about what you give. It's not about what you need to have; it's about what you already
Time. Peace. Joy. Love. Family. Remembrance. These are all of the things that Christmas is about. So what if you can't
dress up your home, buy the most expensive gifts or have a grand feast? Take time this holiday season to enjoy what really
matters. Because it is the things that matter to us the most that are the things that make these holidays all the more worthwhile.
Be nice to Fred; he works here!