That’s Not Supposed to Be There…

Have you been seeing the cool response posts going up on Twitter and Facebook lately? The ones I really like are the requests for embarrassing information, like what’s a word you said in your head but then when you heard it out loud it was completely wrong? For me it was segue. I said it in my head as seg-you, and could use it correctly in speech as seg-way, but when seeing it and saying it came together one disastrous afternoon, I discovered my folly and was heckled nonstop by the husband.

Well, recently my friend Ed over at Gin and Tacos asked followers to share something they learned embarrassingly late in life. My contribution was the fact that I have always believed that pineapples grew on trees, and only recently while visiting the Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disneyworld for breakfast, did I discover that they actually grow on little bushes. I thought it was a decoration. It was not.

And it blew my fucking mind.

It wasn’t where it was supposed to be! Everything I had previously believed about pineapples was proven false by the real world and proof and yet, even as I notice that my next door neighbor has bought and is actually planting actual pineapple bushes in his backyard as if to spite me, I still don’t 100% believe that it’s true. It just…it’s mind bending is what it is.

But then I got to thinking. Everywhere I’ve gone, my presence has shocked people. I have heard “you’re not supposed to be here” more than once in my career, from people who had to accept me in the first place. From national music festivals to my graduate degrees, the presence of this poor pineapple in their bush as opposed to some backwoods elementary school tree teaching bongos was just too much of a shock. All the proof was there, but they didn’t 100% believe that I should be there.

And yes I know I’m stretching that metaphor, but it’s how I feel, okay?

So guess what. The official fruit of Angry Angel Books is now the pineapple, because we should all be ready to confront the beliefs that we hold that are incorrect and do away with them, even if that makes us feel embarrassed or ashamed or stupid, because continuing to believe something that is untrue is defiant at best and at worst extremely damaging. We have to be able to replace beliefs and opinions when they come up against fact and reality, or we are doomed.

So here’s to the pineapple. You confusing little fucker. I’m glad you’re here.

pineapple

 

Bridge Riddles

In the After-Times there is no shortage of trolls on the internet. With the spread of misinformation and years of allowing people to treat opinion as fact, discourse surrounding tough issues can be frustrating. When we feel especially passionate about an issue, or if we have experienced something ourselves, it can be doubly infuriating when others are willing to throw down one sentence falsehoods as fact. The instinct is to teach, to share experience, to state facts and provide proof that this person is dead wrong is very strong.

But I’m here to tell you that’s so two thousand and late.

Internet trolls, whether purposeful or accidental, are not interested in your explanations, experience, or expertise. They exist for one purpose only, and that is to suck your energy. To tire you out using your own strength and knowledge against you. You will fill an entire thread with actual factuals, and at the end they’ll throw down something like “well, you have a right to your opinion! LOL!” and walk away, leaving you tired, frustrated, and jaded.

I had an interaction with a friend of a friend last night over the recently released report that almost half of the country can’t afford basic needs like rent or food. She launched into the typical “I shouldn’t have to pay taxes to help people that should just work harder and help themselves/they must just be making bad decisions with their money” kind of argument, and I told her to take her poor shaming and control issues elsewhere.

Then she pulled out the oldest trick in the troll handbook and said “Poor shaming isn’t a thing.”

Now at this point old instincts echoed inside of me. The urge to post all the studies and proof that poor shaming is part of the fabric of this country was almost insurmountable. Instead I wrote:

“Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha poor shaming isn’t a thing hahahahahahahaha oh man this bitch slays me”

This was unexpected, so the troll had to pull out the next trick, which is meant to trigger someone into proving they aren’t a thing that they are being accused of. The statement that is designed to send any reasonable, academic, intelligent person into the deep research realms to prove their worth.

“I’m so impressed by your superior logic. Your ability to support your opinion with facts seems to be lacking, but you are quick with the ad hominem attacks. Also don’t worry about the fact that cellphone was listed in things people can’t afford, because…that’s definitely a basic necessity.”

Doesn’t that statement just make you want to go off on so many tangents? Things like the difference between fact and opinion, or pointing out that no ad hominem attacks occurred, or providing evidence that cell phones (not smartphones, basic cell phones) have become a necessity in modern society. Wouldn’t you just love to educate this person and help them see the error of their ways?

But you can’t. A troll only ends one way – their entertainment via your exhaustion. So I resisted the urge and posted:

“Look at this troll, trying to make me feed her a term paper like it’s 2008 and I would still fall for that shit.”

Now this was a shock. The troll’s usual tools weren’t working! Oh no! Well, there was only one more tool to try – striking at the poster’s intelligence itself:

“Your intellectual ability, or in your case – disability, shouldn’t depend on the year. But I don’t care to do this with you on *friend’s* facebook page, or anywhere, since it is clearly a waste of time. Have a nice day sweetheart.”

I mean, these are the big guns. She calls me intellectually disabled, misunderstands my statement about 2008, claims she cares more about the friend than I do, calls the discussion a waste of time, and then condescends to me with the term sweetheart.

What. A. Cunt.

But remember, a troll is only looking for one thing – entertainment from you dancing to their tune. I forgot to mention a second goal, which is to distract from the issue. The fact that almost half the country might be in financial danger is scary, and might cause this person to have to take on the tough job of re-evaluating their morals, beliefs, and policy ideas. They might come out looking like a monster for being a person that would think this situation was okay as long as they weren’t bothered. So, feeling exposed, the best they can do is to “disagree with the premise” and spout opinions and falsehoods to confuse the issue until everyone forgets about it.

Classic Trump.

I shouldn’t have to convince someone to care about other people. This article and the situation at large should be enough to make everyone furious, either because they are the people being described or because they care about people in general. This friend of a friend was so worried about disproving and ignoring the facts in the article that she forgot to care. When given the choice between denial and empathy, she chose denial. She chose condescension. She chose derision. And once those decisions were made, she decided that they were her opinions and would defend them with everything she had.

In the face of poverty, suffering, danger, homelessness, struggle, imbalance, and strife, she chose to be a judgmental bitch.

When people show you who they are, believe them. Especially in the After-Times. Don’t argue, don’t discuss, don’t try to convince. Those are Before-Times activities. We live in an age where peoples’ true natures are revealed. It is very difficult to change who someone truly is. All we can do is be better, and try not let them distract us from that goal.

Half of our country cannot afford to live. The only question we should be asking is, how do we make that better? How do we change it? Not easy questions, but we must find answers to them soon.

Stay focused.

The House of Broken Angels

House of Broken Angels

It is a shame that this book did not hook me like I wanted it to. I love books with good, healthy family drama, and the fact that this was based on a Mexican family with mixed immigration statuses also fed my hunger for stories that speak to deeper societal issues too. Unfortunately I got about 90 pages in and became weary with reading about how Big Angel (the patriarch) is dying and all the things he thinks about and the family dynamics around him…I don’t know, I just didn’t care enough to keep reading.

This is a book that would be a perfect seminar book. I need to make a tag for those – you know, the kind of book that you could read across a semester in an English class (high school or college) and there are enough references in the fiction to connect to actual, real world issues happening currently in real time? Immigration, how the armed forces treats its members that are not civilians, Mexican time/family dynamics, drug issues, gang issues – they are all here. It’s a book I want someone to read with me and discuss, not necessarily one I would read for enjoyment or in my free time.

So I set it aside, not because it was poorly written or a bad story, but because I’m not really in the mood for an academic read disguised as a fiction novel at the moment. If you enjoy books that expose you to culture and teach you about it through story, grab this book right away. It’s current and fresh, and the writing is good. I know I’ll come back to it at some point, it’s just not the right time right now.

 

Heaven and Earth (Three Sisters Island #2)

Heaven and Earth

Dance Upon the Air (#1)

The second installment of the Three Sisters Island trilogy focuses on Ripley Todd, a policewoman on the island and the direct descendant of the witch called Earth that originally formed the island sanctuary. Her central issue is control; she wields the most power of the three, but has locked it away instead of learning to use and control it.

With the vanquishing of Evan Remington on Samhain, and Nell finally free, the first seal on the curse is broken. Ripley knows that she must face her demons next, or the island will perish as as result of the curse.

The actions that the three “sisters” took to drive Evan Remington mad have caught the eye of two men. Jonathan Harding, a reporter, and MacAllister Booke, a paranormal researcher. Booke comes straight to the island to do research, and Harding travels to meet with Remington, who he discovers is now a raving lunatic, and walks away with more than he bargained for. Both men head for the island for answers.

Booke is a hot nerd, and he and Ripley have this fight-a-little, kiss-a-little, get-so-angry-we-have-sex kind of courtship. He’s patient with her, which is nice, because she’s the kind of person that only resists destiny harder when she knows she’s being forced into it. So she comes around to liking him without him doing anything but his normal day to day activities – studying the history of the island and the magic that is done on it. Ripley finds his clumsy nerd act combined with hot bod endearing, and so the love story portion of the tale is born.

So Ripley has to control her power and find a way to have both justice and compassion at the same time in order to break her ancestor’s piece of the curse. Will she succeed? Will she get to keep the sexy nerd? Read to find out!

(PS – This is definitely the sexiest of the three books.)

The Kindness of Strangers

Moving from state to state can be very expensive. Having moved between 4 states, with a short stay in a 5th, I can attest to this fact. Moving costs, finding new housing, finding new employment – it’s all very stressful and difficult to do without support.

The first time I had to ask for help was when I moved from Arizona to Indiana. My lease was up in June, but I wouldn’t be able to afford to begin a new lease in Indiana until August. I had friends from Maine that now lived in Wisconsin, and they offered to play host to my three cats and me. So I slept on an air mattress in their breezeway for a month, keeping careful track of the kitties, and basically paying for my own food. This short stay allowed me to bridge the gap between my masters and doctoral coursework. I drove to Bloomington at the beginning of August, signed a lease for an apartment, and had my classes and teaching assignments ready to go.

The only time I moved without having a job waiting for me was when I ended my doctoral pursuit to move to Florida with the husband to get married and begin our lives together. Neither of us had jobs, but I was already searching for a music ed position, and the husband was still kind of considering finishing his dissertation, which he could do anywhere and still receive student loans to help with the finances.

To do this we had to live with his parents just outside of Orlando. We stayed in his childhood bedroom, and all of our belongings were in storage. Without this kindness, we would not have been able to afford to move, get married, get a new apartment, and have time to search for a job. Granted, it wasn’t ideal, but it was a two month period where we were able to make a life transition at low cost. I found a job in the Tampa Bay area, we located a nice apartment we could afford, we got married, and began the life that would be such a financial struggle from 2010 to now. I have tried to imagine what it would have been like if we hadn’t had those rent free months – it doesn’t look pretty to me.

Having been on the receiving end of such kindness, I can speak to all the things I knew I had to be to be a good guest. Clean, kind, paying for what I could, helping with chores or pets – basically bending over backwards to make sure that I did not become more of a burden than my very presence might create on its own. I was lucky, my hosts also were good hosts – they understood that by offering this opportunity they were taking on certain responsibilities too, and it wouldn’t be right to be shitty to a desperate person to whom they have opened their doors. Communication is key, and as long as everyone is ready to make the best of it, and no one takes advantage of anyone else, things should turn out fine.

So when a close friend of mine told me that she had been issued a “6 day notice to vacate” by a friend of a friend who had agreed to house her to ease her transition back to her home state, it struck me how important it is, maybe more important, for a host to know what they are offering. If you are even the smallest bit hesitant, or maybe you are high maintenance, or you’re not good with people, or whatever, it is okay to offer a different kind of support.

If you commit to house someone when they literally have no job and no where else to live, you hold their lives in your hands. You hold all the power. That person will do their best to be a good guest because, 9 times out of 10, they are desperate to keep you happy so you won’t kick them out. If you can’t house someone, DON’T. Help them in other ways or just communicate that you cannot help that way.

For example, in our current rental home, the husband and I do not have room to house guests. I mean, we could make room, but it would be very uncomfortable for everyone. So I probably would not offer up our house as a place to stay unless it was very short term. Like, they are starting a job on one date but they can’t move into their apartment until a week later or something. But if it was a “I’m moving to Tampa and I need a place to stay while I job hunt” I would have to say that our place is not the right place.

So when my friend says that her benefactor is being passive aggressive and attempting to make her life hell until she gets out, I want to ask that “helpful” person what she expected. What did she think would happen when she invited another human into her home to stay for an indeterminate amount of time? When she agreed to share space and resources to help a friend of a friend? Did she think she was getting a servant? Did she think that my friend would just be silently reading in a room, unseen and not messing with any routines? Why would you say yes, only to turn sour and kick her out, knowing she doesn’t have other options?

Granted, I’m taking my friend’s word for it that she wasn’t being a sloppy jerk who left a million dishes in the sink and bogged down the bandwidth, but she’s my friend and I trust her to tell me the truth. She trusted this person to keep her safe while she put down new roots. This person fucked her over. I’m so, so sorry that it happened and I am so, so thankful that it never happened to me. I hope that she has other friends and support in the area so everything turns out okay.

I guess the central point I’m trying to make here is that you should help when and how you can, but be careful not to go outside your comfort/ability zone. You may end up hurting more than you help.

The Song of Achilles

Song of Achilles

There isn’t anything that I am particularly nerdy about. When I say nerdy, I mean something that I love so much that I have taken the time to know it inside and out. The closest example of what I mean is how Stephen Colbert knows just about everything about the universe of The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit. He’s read everything, asked questions, collected information, and not because anyone told him to, but because he wanted to know it.

If I could have been ultra-nerdy about anything, I think it would have been Greek and Roman mythology. Every time I read something even loosely based on it, my brain feels…I’m not sure how to describe it…like a horse in the starting gate before a race. Poised? Anticipatory? Like if I had the time I would immediately go get three other books just about this topic and read them too. Like I wouldn’t know how to stop.

As a teacher, I also appreciate when this kind of information is brought to the present, and given to me in the colloquial. Reading the Iliad or the Odyssey can be fun as long as the language isn’t all tangled in ancient terms. The stories are good, otherwise they wouldn’t have stood the test of time through an oral tradition, so there is no reason why we can’t tell them in our modern day terms.

Putting all of this together made The Song of Achilles a book that latched onto my face like an alien and bored itself into my brain as quickly as humanly possible. I read the first half of the book in the span of like 3 hours. It’s the story of Achilles, told from the point of view of his lover Patroclus. It follows them from their childhood all the way to the siege on Troy. It’s written like a YA novel, focusing more on the gay love story than the actual details of the myth. What Madeline Miller used to her advantage here is the general knowledge of the myth – she had the ability to tell a different story while telling the same old story, couching the new in the very familiar, and in doing so making the book both a comfort and a revelation.

I do not want to spoil the ending for you. Its beauty is something that should unfold before you without anyone giving you any information. When I read the last italicized words I felt relief. I felt thankful. I felt at peace.

Go get you some.

52 in 52: Be Right Back!

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t posted my weekly 52 in 52 posts in a couple of weeks. The reason for this is simply that I am exhausted and haven’t been doing much outside of going to work and coming home. I have two more weeks of the school year, and then a full and free summer, so this series will be returning as soon as I can get up the energy to pick up the notebook and find the next goal.

Thanks for your patience! Have a great weekend!