Freewriting Session 1: January 2023

I’m convinced that any writer who claims they never have writer’s block is probably either a liar or not a very good writer. Those of us who admit to having writer’s block like to share our methods for overcoming it. Because my writer’s block is often brought on by my anxiety, which causes an inability to concentrate, one of my favorite methods to beat the block is a freewriting session.

A quill in an empty inkwell positioned next to a blank notebook page.

For those who don’t know what freewriting is, it’s when you write with no regard to grammar, punctuation, or spelling. You just write. You can use a writing prompt, or not. You can time your session, or not. The only real rule is to just keep writing. Many moons ago, a creative writing teacher put on music in the classroom and told us to write whatever the music evoked and to keep our pens moving until she turned the music off. What was so amazing about that day and that exercise is that, for the whole time, the anxiety and the thoughts I’d been fixated on went quiet. My brain focused on nothing but the music and what I was putting on the page.

Well friends, my anxiety has been bad and, as a result, my productivity low. A good friend introduced me to some new (to me) music. You see where this is going…

The music my friend introduced me to was Hypogeum by The Oracle. I chose track II: The Face in the Shroud because it’s the longest on the album.

So, without any further ado, I present the results of my first freewriting session of the year. (Note: I typed this freewriting session, so spell check kind of automatically did its thing):


Each step fell heavier than the last. What if this didn’t work? What if all the effort, and pain, and cleansing, and preparation amounted to…nothing? Would she be permitted to stay? What would a life in the cold, unforgiving wilderness look like if exiled?

All she knew was this life inside these walls with the strict rules meant to prepare her for an ascension. And what was the ascension, really? All of those around her had apparently ascended but were still here. They did walk about with a strange glow in their eyes that indicated a certain knowing of all things. But then, why didn’t they tell her anything?

Another footstep. Another turn through a twisted labyrinth both metaphorical and perfectly real and tangible.

Another footstep. Stomach drops at the glow ahead. This was not the natural glow of a fire, but a pulsing green which quickened to match pace with her heart. She fought to breathe.

Another step; another turn.

The light pulsing in front of her now. Figures she could barely make out. So familiar yesterday, and so strange today.

Announcement: Site Maintenance

Update: December 19, 2022

Hello again, Readers, Friends, and Reader-friends!

First, thank you so much for your patience! This should not have taken a month, but for some reason, when I’m strategizing my own content, I’m pretty indecisive. Normally, I’d go to the data for guidance, but since I’ve treated this space mostly as a hobby site, I didn’t have very enlightening data, either. So, rather than bore you with the ins and outs of web content development, I’ll just tell you what has been updated in the last month.

  • Updated Tabs:
    • The former “About” tab is now the “Home” tab and is where you will land when typing or clicking
    • “The Blog” is now under its own tab.
    • A “Contact Us” tab has been added so you can tell me just what you think of me. Be gentle with my fragile ego, please.  
  • Revamped Categories:
    • “Reviews & Stuff I’m Reading/Watching” has been changed to “Entertainment” with a subcategory for book reviews.
    • NEW CATEGORY! “Deconstruction Diaries”. If you know, you know.
  • Ugh…Twitter:
    • The Twitter widget displaying my Twitter feed has been removed. I don’t think I need to go into why. I mean, it’s obvious at this point, right?
    • Appropriate posts still have a button to quickly share to Twitter—for now. Seriously, I might remove those buttons this afternoon. I dunno.

Stay tuned for updates still to come!

  • Aesthetic:
    The current look was fresh when I last overhauled this site, but that was almost seven years ago now. The look needs to be updated, if for no other reason than that I’m getting kind of bored with it.
  • Accessibility:
    I want my site to be accessible to all, and right now it just isn’t. For example, I know I have a ton of images that don’t have alternate text behind them to aid people with visual impairments. I strongly suspect I fail the accessibility test in other areas, too. I’m working on it.

So, why all these changes?

I make a living advising other entities on how to strategize their content and bring their sites up to industry standards and best practices. When working with those other entities, I’m constantly in the headspace of questioning how well their content is serving the audience. So, maybe…just maybe…my own website shouldn’t be total clown shoes. Maybe it should be more than just a vanity site.

And hey—I have a “Contact Us” tab now. So, feel free to drop a suggestion or two.


Post: November 16, 2022

Hello Readers, Friends, and Reader-friends!

I’m doing a little site maintenance, so some things may not be where you or I left them. Bear with me while I make decisions about the direction I want to take this site, whether I want to add another, or whether I just need to revamp everything here.

I appreciate your patience!

Maybe a Little Relaxation

Photo of a lit candle against a dark background.

Look, we’re living in stressful times. It doesn’t matter who you are. With issues like the economy, inflation, mass layoffs, mass shootings, political tensions, threats of war, and natural disasters linked to climate change (just to name a few), there’s a scary headline suited to your specific anxieties.

So, maybe a little relaxation?

I often have a hard time quieting my brain at night. When my daily work and fun is done and I’m supposed to be winding down, I’m just…not. Instead, I’m turning all of those worries and anxieties over and over in my brain. “Nothing to lose sleep over.” Oh, my friend! I can lose sleep over what I’m having for breakfast. And if it’s too late, I generally don’t take sleep medications because I don’t want to feel groggy from them in the morning.

I was discussing this with a friend who told me that she usually falls asleep to ASMR videos on YouTube, and I admit that I had to covertly Google “ASMR”. Wikipedia to the rescue:

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a tingling sensation that usually begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. A pleasant form of paresthesia, it has been compared with auditory-tactile synesthesia and may overlap with frisson.”

Oh! Yeah! I know what that is! What I didn’t know until I went to YouTube and searched “ASMR videos” was that there are tons of content creators who specialize in making videos to tingle you into relaxation and help you fall asleep fast. I’ve got a few favorites that trigger tingles and relaxation, but I’ve found that when it comes to sleeping, videos mimicking the spa environment work best for me. My current go to is: The Healing Room ASMR. My eyelids usually get pretty heavy about 15 minutes into one of these videos.

In exploring ASMR for sleep, I stumbled into the world of sleep stories and guided meditations. I’ve also tried sleep hypnosis to try and maintain a sense of calm in the waking hours. I’m not always as successful with sleep stories and guided meditations because my mind is sometimes like a really loud beehive and it’s difficult to focus on the story/meditation. (When that’s the case, I relax with a quick ASMR first, and then move to stories/meditation.)  For sleep stories, I’m trying out MindRest. For guided meditations and sleep hypnosis, I like Michael Sealy.

Now that I’ve explored this stuff on YouTube and found that it actually helps and isn’t just techno snake oil, it may be time to try out the sleep apps.

If you have a favorite sleep app, feel free to drop it in the comments.

God, Guts, and Guns, Part 4: Where Do We Go From Here?

This post is part of a series. You can read part 1 hereread part 2 here, and read part 3 here.

It’s not lost on me that when I talk about leaving evangelicalism, I sound like someone who has left a cult, and I wonder if the only difference between a religion and a religious cult is the membership size, because I know what world I escaped. Not just the world I described in this series, full of gun-toting children and rampant racism, but a world in constant fear of whatever enemy they’ve made up this time.

Meme from Twitter. @CrappyFumes writes: Evangelicals don’t think life is supposed to be good. They think life on earth is supposed to be a crucible that tests if you’re fit for heaven. If evangelicals take over society the quality of life for everyone is going to steeply decline. Count on it. @CrappyFumes replies to own tweet: Like if you think our society is obsessed with punishment now…these people literally think that death for a believer is a merciful release from a world of earthly sin. They think death should be looked forward to. They don’t want to improve society. They want apocalypse.

A world of panic: I was too young and dressed in pink to be targeted during the height of the Satanic Panic in the 1980s, but I certainly knew whom and what I was supposed to be afraid of. I recall a time when my youth group invited a “former Satanist” to come and tell us literal horror stories about demonic possession through the powers of heavy metal music and Dungeons & Dragons. (That’s right kids, season four of Stranger Things hits differently if you remember the Satanic Panic.) Looking back, as someone who has regained her senses and no longer believes in demonic possession, where the hell did my youth group leader find this guy? Was he vetted at all? Would it have mattered?

A world of censorship: There was always someone on me about the types of fiction I preferred. I’ll never forget the time a youth leader (who was also the director of the summer church camp I attended) stood in our kitchen and warned my mother about the fantasy novels I enjoyed because they were put out by TSR, the same publishers as the Dungeon Master’s Guides. In the director’s mind, these books were the path to Hell and my mother should take them and burn them right away, lest I burn later. I remember how my stomach dropped, because those fantasy novels did more to guide me and stop me from succumbing to my own depression and anxiety than the Bible ever did. To my mother’s credit, those fantasy novels still grace my shelves. Burning books never sat well with my mom—and she didn’t like being told what to do in her own home either.

A world of purity culture: Put simply, purity culture sucks for women and girls. Outside of being made to believe that our value is intrinsically linked to the social construct of virginity, we are also held responsible for the thoughts and actions of pubescent boys (and grown men). We are taught to embrace a “Modest is hottest” dress code to signal to worthy young men that we are worthy young women, but more than that, to protect men’s minds from turning to lustful thoughts, thus protecting ourselves. It’s the open door to full victim blaming when someone does hurt us. “What did you expect when you’re dressed like that?”

Of course, boys are instructed to keep themselves pure as well, but there’s always been a bit of a *wink, nudge* to it. Straight, cisgender boys can’t get pregnant, and since (outside of STIs and STDs) nature doesn’t do much to hold boys accountable, evangelical Christians don’t either.

Which leads to women and girls not having any rights or resources left at all.

I am so grateful I got out. But now, having put it all behind me, my biggest fear is that I’ll be forced back into that cult. This time, my fear is justified and based in reality.

Anyone in the United States has a right to their religion and the freedom to practice it. However, those of us who don’t share those beliefs should have freedom from those beliefs. Meanwhile, the evangelical goal is to rebuild the government in the church’s image, and with the Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade, and siding with performative prayer on the football field of a public school, it seems that they’re winning.

We were always implored to pray for our leaders and representatives. There was often talk during election seasons about Christian candidates and who stood for our values. But the final straw for my mother came in 2004 when the politics came directly from the pulpit and the pastor told the congregation how they should vote. I had left the church by then, but I recall how upset my mother was when she told me how the pastor said that Christian values should be the priority when voting. That in God’s eyes, morality was more important than the economy, foreign affairs, climate, or anything else, and from that perspective, “George Bush was God’s candidate.” That was it for my mom. She got out, too.

So, when you see some clown saying outrageous things, like how we should rethink the separation of church and state or how this is a Christian nation, and think it’s just for clicks or for show, it’s not. Know that they’re pandering to a base that is very real, very serious, and a lot larger than you think (approximately 90-100 million people in the United States identify as evangelical Protestants), and their radical messages have been pumping through church loudspeakers for decades. If there’s any point I want to stress, it’s that the “weirdo fringe” isn’t that fringe, and they’ve been planning and preparing for a long time.

People with black hair, black clothes, and tattoos walking single file up concrete steps. Text reads: Heading down to the 50-yard line to pray.

I see variants of the meme shared here. Black-haired folks with tattoos and black clothes, presumably Satanists, marching to the 50-yard line to say their own prayers. I have a laugh and throw the horns and hail Satan because—to be clear—I don’t actually believe in Satan anymore. But then it occurs to me, accompanied by a horrible chill that rolls up my spine, back down, and settles in my gut: evangelical Christians do believe in a literal Satan, and that a literal war between Good and Evil is coming. To some degree, we’re playing into their hands when we share these memes. Evangelical Christians relish the idea that they might be proven right in a field of battle, but even more? That those of us who they believe to be wrong will be punished, doomed to burn for eternity in the Lake of Fire, and that they will have had a hand in it. The cruelty is the point.

Still, what option do we have but to push back? No one wants to live in a country run on religious ideals. We’ve been told to fear those countries often enough by the very same people who would turn the United States into one. I believe there’s something in The Much-thumped Book about a person who can’t see the plank in their own eye but criticizes someone for the speck in theirs (Matthew 7:5). Outside of speaking out and voting accordingly (blue), one of my favorite means of pushing back is to file a complaint with the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of any church engaging in political activity. This is a capitalist society; hurting their wallet hurts their power.

As for me personally? I reflect on how I’m no longer comforted by a cross on the wall of a hospital room. For me, the cross doesn’t represent Christ’s sacrifice, but rather the worst times of my life. I don’t join groups because I don’t trust them. I think about how the first time I ever really felt peace was the first time I considered that it might all be bullshit, and if I felt relieved by that rather than afraid, then what did that say about my belief? I chuckle when I think that maybe that youth leader/camp director was actually kind of right about my path to the dark side as a purveyor of some of the same creepy stories I’d been warned against and the author of this piece, though it wasn’t really the fantasy novels or the comic books or the secular music that did it because…

I also can’t stop thinking about a sermon that same youth leader/camp director once gave, feeding us the poisonous evangelical lie that we will be held responsible for the souls we didn’t save. I wonder what awaits the people whose actions are directly responsible for turning people away from Christ.

God, Guts, and Guns, Part 3: Jesus Loves the Little Children

This post is part of a series. You can read part 1 here and read part 2 here.

A rural church on a nice day. Text says: "You'll find bigots anywhere, but a rural church is a good place to start.

…All the children of the world…

But once again, it seems that some people have a hard time with the definition of ALL.

Instances of racism in my early years in the Methodist church weren’t nearly as abundant or as cruel as they could have been. My mother sat on the charity committee that decided which families received a turkey and a box of food from the church for their holiday meals, and so the lower income racists of the congregation feared that offending her might result in a leaner holiday for them. Ironically, my mother would never have held their bigotry against them because Jesus told us to love our enemies. So, I was aware, every holiday season, that my mom delivered boxes of food to people who absolutely hated us.

Maybe it was my mother’s unrelenting dedication to showing Christ’s love by example, but somewhere along the line, it became cemented in my brain that I, too, had to be a good example, not just as a Christian, but as a Christian of color. It was up to me (and my family) to change the small minds of our small town. Once, when a little racist girl from my school attended the Vacation Bible School class that my mom taught—and had really good time—I was excited that, “Maybe we changed their minds, and I’ll be allowed to go to her parties now.”

How naïve I was!

Racism and bigotry are antithetical to the teachings of Christ. Yet, I remember a number of occasions on which my mother had to wipe my tears and reassure me of that, because someone suggested that someone I loved was going to Hell. Not because of anything they did, but because they were part of a certain marginalized community, or not a Christian, or simply not the right kind of Christian. People had no problem suggesting that my dad wasn’t going to be in Heaven with me. Of course, it was chalked up to his being Catholic and not attending church and having nothing at all to do with the color of his skin, but a few of my white friends’ dads didn’t go to church with them, and no one told my white friends that their daddies weren’t going to Heaven. Or the time a Vacation Bible School teacher told me that my Mormon cousins were part of a cult and needed to find the real Jesus or—you guessed it—Hell. Or when my uncle died, and they whispered that he was most certainly in Hell because he was a gay man who died of AIDS. Never mind that he was one of the kindest souls that you’d have ever wanted to meet, a bit of a trickster, and exactly the kind of uncle I wish I’d had in my life for much longer.

My mother always made sure I knew, “That hatred is their twisted belief and misunderstanding of God, but it’s not true. We don’t believe that.” And I know that on a few occasions, she went to the sources of the nonsense and told them to watch what kind of crap they said to me. Still, the sheer number of times I had to be convinced that it was only a few, fringe bad apples suggested to me that the fringe was bigger than I was being led to believe. Eventually, my mom realized it, too.

Unfortunately, when the general toxicity got bad enough that we started trying other churches, and my mother no longer held the keys to the charity chest, I got to learn just how racist the white evangelicals in our little rural valley really were. 

The crown jewel was being told that I shouldn’t even exist. A “pro-lifer” told me that in my case, abortion would have been okay because mixed-race children are an abomination. Of course, it was twisted to sound like love, that God forbade race mixing for our own good because He doesn’t want us to suffer the hatred that mixed-race children face. Apparently, it’s easier to ask mixed-race kids not to exist at all than it is to ask vile racists not to be vile racists.

Turns out, micro-aggressions were the best-case scenario and a sign of acceptance. White kids looking to me to lead them in song and dance any time “Lean On Me” was played (because that’s obviously my thang), was a better experience than worshipping on Sunday next to people who attacked me with the N-word Monday through Friday at school.

Not in your church! Why, you’ve never heard any of this hateful stuff before! Well, let me ask you: Are you white? Are you straight? Was there ever any reason or occasion for you to have had to hear it? Because I assure you: Yes, in your church.

For the record, I know that #NotAllChristians are bigots. I personally know quite a few good Christians with proven records of calling out and standing against the hatred they see in their churches and communities, because they know that’s what Jesus would do. I’ve read numerous articles published recently (from both religious and secular publications), about Christians of all flavors taking stands against bigotry of all flavors. I’ve worshipped side by side with Christians who truly believe that Jesus loves all the children of the world—no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. ALL.

But I have to wonder, if I hadn’t grown up mixed-race in a sea of white people, if my family hadn’t been so diverse, if I hadn’t been told that so many of the people that I loved the most were going to Hell, would I have ever questioned any of the other evangelical beliefs that caused so much harm? Would I have ever gotten out?

I shudder to think that if I’d ever felt truly accepted in the white evangelical community, I might still be one of them.

Next: God, Guts, and Guns, Part 4: Where Do We Go From Here?

God, Guts, and Guns, Part 2: That Time I Fired Dirty Harry’s Gun at Church Camp

This post is part of a series. If you missed part 1, you can read it here.

Meme of Clint Eastwood as “Dirty Harry” holding a .44 Magnum. The image text says: “Do you feel lucky, punk? Lucky enough to bet your immortal soul?”

So, do you ever tell a story that seems perfectly normal to you, but then everyone looks at you like they want to give you hot chocolate and a hug? Well, let me tell you about this one time at church camp.

It was actually a winter weekend retreat with the youth group I was part of at the time. Social activities with the church were always parent-approved, and if I recall correctly, I was grounded otherwise for my garbage grade in Geometry, so the choice to go was a pretty easy one to make. I remember some grumbling about not being able to bring outside reading material besides, of course, my own Bible. The X-Men comics needed to stay at home, but at least I’d have something to do with my weekend.

I recall very normal, mundane things. Like how, in addition to my comics, I’d also left my coat behind. I’d taken it off while running around with friends at the pastor’s house before the trip, and had forgotten about it completely by the time of departure. So, I ended up wearing lots of layers the whole weekend. I remember some very normal teenage heartbreak when, shortly after arrival at the camp, a girl walked up to me and asked if I was who she thought I was, which I confirmed. She then introduced herself as the girlfriend of the “Good Christian Boy” I’d met at another Christian event and on whom I’d had a very significant crush. I hadn’t known he had a girlfriend. Thankfully, I was already well-practiced in hiding my emotions, so saving face wasn’t that hard. I might have been heartbroken, but I’d be damned if I let anyone know it. Sucky, but normal, teenager stuff.

I should also remind everyone that I’m talking about rural Pennsylvania, where the first day of buck hunting season and the first day of doe hunting season are holidays off from school. It is assumed that everyone hunts the American whitetail deer, and the age at which you can obtain a youth hunting license in Pennsylvania is 12. While I have never held a hunting license, I admit that target shooting is a lot of fun. I’m convinced that’s part of why we have such a gun problem in America. Just about everyone I know who has been shooting enjoys shooting. Conservative, Liberal, Progressive—it makes little difference. But I digress. The point is that there’s nothing weird about target shooting at a young age in Pennsylvania.

So, what, exactly, was weird?

Shooting a .44 Magnum—decidedly NOT a hunting rifle—while listening to the instructor talk about being good soldiers for Christ. While no one suggested that we go shoot non-Christians, metaphors about keeping our eyes on the target despite distractions from the outside, secular world made it very clear that there was an “us” and a “them” and that we had better be on the right side or Hell awaited.

It’s important to note that there were myriad other weapons available, which we all took turns firing, from handguns to rifles (thankfully, no military style assault rifles), to various bows and arrows. I only remember the .44 Magnum because of the smug smile on the instructor’s face as he put it in my hand and suggested that Dirty Harry’s gun was probably too much for me. (I did just fine, thanks.)

As the first line of this piece suggests, I hadn’t even realized that this wasn’t normal activity at a Christian youth event until I told the story to a handful of Catholic friends. “Oh yeah…The very first time I ever fired a gun was at church camp.” And that’s when I got that Red Cross, hot chocolate and a hug look. The more I tried to explain it away, the more it looked like I needed a hug and lots of therapy. It was concerning for them that I thought this was normal.

They were right.

I talked to my mother about the guns at the youth retreat years later, and she’d had no idea that shooting had been an activity. She’d never signed any consent forms for me, older than 12, but still a minor, to fire any weapons. But most importantly, I don’t recall anyone at all asking any questions at all about the activities. It was simply assumed that because it was church, it was automatically good and wholesome. All parents needed to know, all youth leaders needed to know, was that it was an evangelical Christian event.

Please check out any church or church sponsored activity before you just send your kids. You may not think they’re getting extremist messaging—and they may not be, but they very well may be. Ask the questions, no matter how outlandish and unnecessary you think they are, because you may be surprised by the answers.

If you ever question whether my Catholic friends were right, I need to ask you a question. The very same question you might have been asking yourself while reading and that I’ve asked myself a million times: “What if we’d been Muslims?” Or literally anyone not majority white and evangelical…

Next: God, Guts, and Guns, Part 3: Jesus Loves the Little Children

God, Guts, and Guns, Part 1: Background

Lately, I find myself in a lot of conversations about Christianity, the nature of Christ, and how the Bible is interpreted—or misinterpreted. My opinions are often dismissed by a certain demographic that sees my melanated skin and my mixed-race family and assumes that I’m a “big city liberal” who has never seen the inside of a small-town church or attended a humble Bible study.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

A crowd of young people at an outdoor Christian music festival. Some people have their arms raised in praise.
Image from the Creation Festival Facebook page. The Creation Festival is an annual Christian music festival held at Agape Farm in Shirleysburg, PA (near Mount Union, PA), which I attended a few times in my youth.

I don’t often talk about my early years. Growing up mixed-race in rural Pennsylvania was exactly as much fun as you’d think. So, I don’t like to think about it. But be assured, I grew up in “God, Guts, and Guns” country, as declared proudly on bumper stickers plastered to trucks with gunracks mounted to their rear windows. I only share this background now because people often try to discredit my experience by focusing on what they think are discrepancies in my story when I tell it in pieces. “Well, are you a Catholic or a Baptist? Make up your mind. You’re clearly full of shit.”

Oh, how narrow their worlds must be!

The short history is that my father is Black, and he and his side of the family are Catholic. My mother is white, and was at the time in question, an evangelical Protestant. I was baptized Catholic at the insistence of my paternal grandmother, but when it came to my spiritual upbringing, my father declared, “I was an altar boy and went to Catholic school. God and I are square.” (When I shared this with coworkers at a Catholic magazine I briefly worked for, I had to pause to let them laugh before I went on. Apparently, this sentiment is common?) And so, if I was to be raised in church at all, it would be white, evangelical churches with my mother.

We started out in a United Methodist church (my brother was baptized Methodist, and I had been an acolyte), but due to some spiritual trauma my mother experienced there, we left that church in my mid-teens and tried out a handful of churches over the course of a few years. I specifically recall a Wesleyan church and an Assembly of God before my mother, brother, and I were baptized again (by full submersion) as Baptists. I think I was eighteen. Nineteen, maybe?

There are some people who have suggested that not staying in one faith community was part of the problem. That we had too many ideas from too many places, displaying a lack of faith from the jump. That if we’d stayed in one community, we wouldn’t have been affected by all the outside noise. We wouldn’t have questioned. If that seems hinky to you, if it raises the hairs on the back of your neck, it should. And that sentiment was among the more benign suggestions. There are some who have appallingly suggested to me that my problem is being from a mixed-faith and mixed-race family to begin with, but I’ll get to more on that later.

For now, what I need to make clear, what I need to regretfully confess, is just how very “in it” I was. My mother was a lay speaker and youth leader. She had been a counselor at the same summer “Jesus camp” I attended. Church was a twice-per-week thing, and Bible study was a given. I was often embarrassed by my mother’s insistence on Christian radio when carpooling with my friends, only to be ashamed by that embarrassment later when I sobbed all over myself during altar calls, rededicating my life to Jesus after a particularly fear-based, fire and brimstone sermon. On my knees shaking, crying, and begging for forgiveness and salvation from Hell.

It wasn’t just church, but activism, too. You want to talk about cancel culture? I learned about how a boycott works in Sunday school. You want to picket the porn shop down the street? I know how to organize that. And—perhaps most regretfully—you want to know about protests and marches? My first protest was a “pro-life” march.

So, I was in it, friends. Talked the talk, and quite literally walked the walk. I often cringe at the shameful things I said and did as an evangelical Christian trying to impose my beliefs on others because I was told that’s what good Christians do. But if there’s an upside to any of it, it’s that those evangelicals trained me (and I use the word “trained” for a reason). I understand the logic of their illogic. I know what their goals are and what they’re going to do to achieve them. And that’s why it’s time—past time—to write about it.

Next: God, Guts, and Guns, Part 2: That Time I Fired Dirty Harry’s Gun at Church Camp

Why So Quiet?

“Why so quiet?” asked no one of me, ever. Yet, here I am, writing my semi-regular excuse for neglecting to post a thing in ages. Come to think of it, I wonder what the ratio of actual posts to posts about why I haven’t posted, might be. But I digress…

A photo of fog on a lake reflecting nearby trees in full day but the lighting is dark.
Here’s a picture of fog on a lake for no other reason than that content with images gets more clicks. It doesn’t have a thing to do with this post otherwise.

Why so quiet? A while back, I wrote about how I needed to level up on the corporate side of my career, and I followed through. I made my day job my focus and my priority. I dug in and worked hard. I became more mindful of my tone when pushing back on policies and processes that were…inefficient. And hot damn! The work paid off. An opportunity arose and my name was suggested. I interviewed, and ended up with a dream role, one that I really believed in. I thought I was going to help save the world (as much as a content developer can, anyway). I even did that cliché go-getter thing where I viewed every frustrating challenge as an opportunity to problem solve and showcase my ability, excited to advance my career and do some real good in the world.

And then, without warning, they cut funding to the project and it ended.

Now, if you’re in the business of writing and developing content, particularly in contract situations, you know that this is common. The whole point of contract work is that you’re somewhat disposable, no matter how talented or experienced you are, and dismissal often has more to do with budget than performance. Still, in this case, I was very lucky. A spot opened up on my previous team and I was able to negotiate a transition into that role. I lost a project, but not my job altogether, and during a pandemic when lots of people did lose their jobs, I counted myself blessed and moved on.

But I was still (am still) heartbroken about that project ending.

The only real thing that softened the blow was knowing that my fiction writing was still there, and I still had control over it.

So, the first thing I did was cut mental funding to a project.

The novel I was working on is on hold indefinitely because it read like my own personal therapy session spiced with ample shade at everyone I’ve ever met. The bloodthirsty demon I’d created to splatter gore all over the place did nothing to cover immature writing and hackneyed dreck that my work should have evolved well past by now. Maybe someday, once I’m finished working through all my personal crap, I’ll revisit that piece and make it something worth reading, but today is not that day.

I do have a project I’m actively working on. It began as a short story and has expanded from there. And the more I write, the more ideas I have. I think—and I don’t want to jinx it—but I think it might end up being a worthwhile novel. But that means it’s going to take more time. A lot more time.

And I’m watching the hourglass. I see said time slipping away. I know how long it’s been since I put anything viable out into the world (approx. 6 ½ years at the time of this writing), but y’all…let’s talk about the world for a second.

I am of the belief that for a writer to create a really beautiful piece—poetry or prose, fiction or non-fiction—the writer has to care enough about the human condition to pour all that creative energy into saying the deep, meaningful thing. Well, after the last two years of watching people ignorantly refuse to help protect each other against COVID-19, and the last ALL of my living years of hearing people’s heartless responses to social injustice, and that people are still not doing much about the climate crisis, all I really want to say to humanity is, “F*CK OFF! F*CK RIGHT OFF, RIGHT NOW! Get off my lawn. Lose my number. Delete my email. Don’t find me on the apps.”

And if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

So yeah…that’s why I’ve been so quiet.

Social (Media) Distancing

Image of COVID-19 virus with Facebook and Twitter logos.Wait! Before you go, this is not another puffed up think piece about how social media makes our outlook worse. How, we’d all feel better if we put down our phones and walked away from the click-bait, so here’s my preachy internet content about how everyone should walk away from social media and internet content.  I don’t give a third of a turd about that. No. What I care about, what is bothering me perhaps more than it should, is that social distancing/self quarantine due to COVID-19 is making social media too damned social.

That’s right. All of you extroverted, day-dwelling social butterflies have been cruelly thrust into a world of pandemic where public gatherings are a really bad idea. The introverts’ world. So now, with nowhere else to go, you have flooded social media like the roof collapsed over the cool table and now you have to sit with the nerds in the cafeteria. Yeah, we don’t like it either.

See, we haven’t heard from you in months (because we don’t do meatspace and, with the exception of tagged pictures from your last major life event, your social accounts have been dormant), and now you want to pop in to the comments section with pearls of internet wisdom?! We already know the warnings, proverbs, and mantras because we were here learning them firsthand while you were living lives out in the fresh air. Like, of course you can’t trust everything you see on the internet, Karen. I was out here lookin’ like a fool with my own knee-jerk, reactionary sharing of unvetted memes when you were still trying to figure out how to pronounce the word meme. Yeah, I know the internet is an ugly place, Barb. You think I’m writing this to be a better person? Everyone who’s been here with any frequency at all knows that I’m fishing for the validation that comes from the clicks and the likes that I’ll say anything to get.

What’s worse? You all actually seem to want to connect, to use the internet in the manner it was intended. WTF is that?! That’s not how this works. How it works is:

  1. Shout your opinions, grievances, and whatever else is on your mind to the world from behind your computer
  2. Hide, delete, block any responses you don’t like or don’t want to see
  3. Walk away feeling like you’ve contributed something and really taken a stand
  4. But ultimately do nothing.

Damn, Gina! Get with the program!

Y’all make me wish I could go outside and walk anonymously through crowded streets.

I suppose, instead, that I could be a leader here, walk you through this new world that caters more to my introverted kind than your extroverted one.  As the meme goes, Check on your extrovert friends because they are not okay. But, nah. I don’t owe you that. The only thing a truly misanthropic introvert can do in this situation is leave social media. It’s gotten too people-y in here and I MUST escape.

So, take this as my grand, dramatic declaration that I’m leaving social media in a virtual flurry of skirts and flip of the hair and staying gone for the foreseeable future, which may be two minutes, two hours, two months, or as long as it takes me to compose a really hot tweet.

Oh, you’re not familiar with this trend? You really haven’t been here in a while.


PSA: We’ve had some fun here today, but misinformation and disinformation on the internet are real problems in situations like the one in which we find ourselves. Ignorance leads to fear and panic (and I’m pretty sure there’s something about hate and the Dark Side, too), so for credible information, see CDC Coronavirus (COVID-19).

A Very Disney Villain Cabinet

Disney villain images from Google image search results. I do not own the rights (obviously). Please don’t sue me, Disney. I’m a Disney+ subscriber!

It’s an election year. While I avoid being overtly political in this space (though I think people can tell which way I lean), that’s not the case on my social media, particularly Facebook. In one of my saltier social media moments, I declared that in the unlikely event of a certain candidate’s nomination in the primary, I’d rather write in a Disney villain than vote for him for president. Thankfully, that candidate has since dropped out, but my declaration resulted in a challenge to appoint a cabinet of Disney villains.

Challenge accepted.

I stuck to animated features. Including the MCU, Star Wars, etc. made it a little too easy. I mean, who wouldn’t vote for Thanos, amirite?

Those who saw the original Facebook post know that I was leaning toward President Maleficent, but I couldn’t think of any other villain I’d want for Secretary of the Interior. So goes the story of another woman who’s too competent and good at her job to be promoted out of her department.

Scar and the Hyenas don’t appear in the cabinet because Scar and the Hyenas are Hitler and the Nazis. Even in a fictional cabinet of Disney villains made purely for the lols, I know better than to appoint Nazis to office.

So, without any further ado…

Disney Villain President, VP, and Cabinet:

  • President of the United States: Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
  • Vice President of the United States: Chernabog (Fantasia)
  • Secretary of State: Prince Hans (Frozen)
  • Secretary of the Treasury: Prince John (Robin Hood)
    Honorable mention to Scrooge McDuck (since he’s not really a villain)
  • Secretary of Defense: Shan Yu (Mulan)
  • Attorney General: Hades (Hercules)
  • Secretary of the Interior: Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
  • Secretary of Agriculture: Queen Grimhilde (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
  • Secretary of Commerce: Captain James Hook (Peter Pan)
  • Secretary of Labor: Lady Tremaine (Wicked Stepmother) (Cinderella)
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services: Doctor Facilier (The Shadow Man) (The Princess and the Frog)
  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: The Big Bad Wolf (The Three Little Pigs, a bit of a cheat since it’s part of the Silly Symphony series, not a feature length animated film)
  • Secretary of Transportation: Iago (Aladdin)
  • Secretary of Energy: Jafar (as a genie—phenomenal cosmic power; itty bitty living space) (Aladdin)
  • Secretary of Education: Judge Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs: The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)
  • Secretary of Homeland Security: Gaston LeGume (Beauty and the Beast)