Being Evil is a Waste of Time

I was talking to my daughter Em recently about how she was at a Wal-Mart in Georgia and a woman dropped some stuff and how Em helped the woman pick up her things.

Em wasn’t looking for praise and good-person-pats-on-the-back, she was confused by how other people chose not to help that lady.

For Em, her instinct was to help and to be kind.

But it wasn’t that way for the other people who were there.

At the grocery store in Maine that same day, Shaun (my husband) was in line and a lady had pushed her cart right within an inch of his legs. He backed up an inch to get a better angle to get something out of our cart, hit her cart and immediately apologized. His instinct was to apologize for something that wasn’t his fault.

I have trained him well.

Just kidding! Just kidding!

But the woman acted like it was his fault that her cart was in his space. And then… his instinctive kindness fluttered right away.

When I looked at the lines in the store, I was amazed by how many people seemed so sad or angry, frustrated or anxious. Few people smiled. Most people actively frowned. A lot complained.  They were miserable and sure, some of them probably had reasons to be, but all of them?

So many of us are so lucky. We get to have electricity and phones and indoor plumbing. We have problems, too, obviously. People get sick. People have depression or anxiety. Our friends die. Our kids get in trouble. But we also have so much.

We focus so much on the evil though, just slip into that mindset of ‘everything sucks’ that we sometimes forget the good.

That world of evil and misery is not the world I want to live in and it’s not the world I want everyone else to live in either.

Finding Meaning

There’s a theory out there that a lot of us are unhappy, anxious, uneasy, depressed because we want to find meaning in life and finding meaning? That can be pretty damn hard.

We find religion and go to therapy and the gym in the hopes of finding salvation – emotional, spiritual, phsycial. We convert to different ways of thinking, believing, acting in the hopes that… that what? That we get meaning. That we feel better. That we live better.

Even the stories we write, we’re told by editors and agents and teachers, “Let’s see how that character changes and grows. Or how that character digresses. Bring that character to a new place of self awareness, to a new self.”

It’s all so tremendously linear. The growth of a person or book character is condensed to simple steps, actions forward.

But are people like that? Do we work like that?

That’s where some of the disconnect comes in. When we do evolve, we don’t always evolve in a straight line. When we look for meaning, it isn’t always found after a simple pattern of forward steps.

The people who intrigue me are the people who just live. They live kindly, help others, and are just… they are beautiful.  Their instinct is to be kind and they don’t even lose it after it’s met with anger or fear. They actually cultivate the kindness.

Kind Kids

There were some teens like this where I was on Saturday.

My local YWCA has a holiday bazaar where kids go around with volunteers to buy presents for their family. Volunteers act as store keepers at “stores” where items go for .25 to $5 (or so). Every kid has an escort that takes them around to these store tables loaded down with donated items. The escort is usually a volunteer from the local high school. More volunteers wrap the presents.

It’s pretty adorable.

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The best part is watching the high school kids interact with the younger kids. All these kids are obviously awesome because they are sacrificing their Saturday morning to volunteer, but there was this one kid who totally stood out to me and this wasn’t just because he was wearing a sleeveless Celtics t-shirt jersey when it was 9-degrees-Farenheit.

Nah, Mike impressed me because he broke my stereotypes about bros in sleeveless jerseys. He was on the younger side of high school volunteers, but he was so amazingly wise or patient.

“Would your gram like this?” he’d ask the boy he was assigned to, picking up a set of bird mugs.

The boy would stare at the mugs for about one minute, absolutely blankly. Then, he’d turn away. Mike didn’t even flinch. His tone and demeanor didn’t change.

They’d move on to another item.

Then another item.

Then another.

Mike never groaned. Mike never rolled his eyes. Mike was just… He was patient and awesome and kind, so kind.

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“I love him,” said one of the adult volunteers who’d walked through the frigid weather to the Y so that she could volunteer this morning.

“I would like to marry him,” another lady said, “you know if I was 70 years younger.”

Mike wasn’t the only one who was awesome. There were students volunteering who were wiping phlegm of their temporary wards off their hands, and doing it so discreetly so they wouldn’t hurt the kids’ feelings. There were students carrying more than their weight in presents as the followed their charges scrambling through a maze of volunteers and tables laden with gifts all donated by local people and merchants.

And right then, I realized that I wanted kindness to be my religion just like the Dalai Lama said. I wanted that to be the default choice in my life: the choice of kindness.

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For that kid, for Em, for Shaun – their initial choice is to be kindness. Humanity might crush that kindness away sometimes, but that’s their instinct, their true natures. Of course, they’re going to mess up. They’re human. I’m going to mess up. I’m human. But I’m going to actively choose kindness even as I fight against the things that I think are evil.

Kindness might not be a direct shot to meaning and decreased anxiety, but I really think that they are linked. The more times you can be kind, that you can give, that you can lift people up instead of smashing them down – helps.

There is meaning in goodness.

There is meaning in us.

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Gabby and her frog. She loves and protects him and sometimes even gives him the bed and sleeps on the floor. Why? Because she’s kind. 

 

Writing and Other News

Art.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

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Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

Apply Now!

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Who You Are Is Enough But You Can Still Be Even More

Sometimes it feels almost impossible to feel like you are enough, that all your work and all your love matters to the people you want it to matter to. Sometimes it feels like no matter how hard you love or try or work, you can’t get it right, make a difference.

Here’s the thing: You can’t save the world.

Sometimes you can’t save even one person. But if you try and you love and you listen, you are doing your absolute best and your absolute best is a gift to those people; and it’s a gift to yourself.

That doesn’t mean you will always be awesome and perfect, understanding and full of empathy because nobody can always be that perfect.

But trying? Loving others. Listening. Being.

It is important.

Yet, it’s so hard to believe.

 

I was recently talking to someone brilliant, 24 years old, beautiful, good, and that person thought that they had already wasted their life.

There are a million metrics and achievements this person has already notched off – things that I can’t even imagine achieving. That didn’t matter. It wasn’t enough.

They called themself a loser. Their life, they claimed, was a waste.

But from my viewpoint as someone who is not that person? All I can think about when I think about them is wow.

Just wow.

What an incredible human.

If I can believe that about them why is it so hard for them to realize how cool, amazing and wonderful they are? Why is it so hard for so many of us to believe it about ourselves?

Half the women I know have created themselves and their dreams and expectations in the likeness of a rom-com, which is explained so well in this column by Heather Havrilesky in Vulture. She wrote:

But your concept of yourself makes no sense. You got it from a rom-com. Age 35 is not an expiration date on your beauty or your worth. It doesn’t matter if every single human alive believes this. It’s your job to cast this notion out forever. I’m 48 years old and I’m determined not to tell a story about myself that started in some beauty-product boardroom, among unimaginative corporate marketing professionals. I fail at this quest often, but I’m still determined.

But then there are a bunch of us who don’t or didn’t care about rom-com images. Some of us have massive savior complexes. Some of us want glory. Some of us want to be remembered forever. Some of us have modeled our lives off Marvel movies and Captain America or Ancient Macedonian kings. We’re not much better off.

From fourth through eighth grade my true life ambition was to take a bullet meant for Bono of U2. I would dive on stage, heroically be killed, die in his arms painlessly somehow. And all of Ireland would be so overcome by my sacrifice that they would instantly broker peace. The entire world would do the same.

Saviour complex, much?

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I was a weird kid, obviously, raised on too much Doctor Who and Star Trek. But I wasn’t about romance or babies. I wasn’t into getting married. I didn’t want to be defined by my husband or my marriage or my kids. I wanted to define me. I know! I know! The horror.

But we don’t have to be saviors either. There is so much pressure to be something that our culture, our society, our books and movies and television show, Instagram photos and YouTube videos want us to be.

But what makes us feel truly like we have a purpose, that we aren’t a waste of space and resources, that we matter?  For a lot of us, connections, doing good, friendships. For some of us that still isn’t enough? We are on an endless quest for more, to be better, to do better, to make the most of our time on this earth. Or we are on an endless quest to meet the expectations that society has placed upon us.

We have to find a way to discover who we are and what we want.

Superheroes

Havrilensky wrote:

I’m going to choose to embrace narratives that make me feel more alive and able to contribute whatever twisted crafts I can to this world, while I can.

I’ve been posting a piece of art or a video on my Facebook every Friday because it is what scares me. There’s this weird vulnerability in those forms of communication that make me feel especially vulnerable, but I want to be a better artist. I want to be unafraid about who I am. Those scary Friday posts are part of me going for that instead of just hiding my paintings in the basement.

I grew up poor but in a pretty intellectual household. There were assigned roles. I was the quirky weird one wearing Snoopy shoes. My brother was the ambitious gorgeous one. My sister was the good one. I was the one who read books, who was nerdy and self-righteous. I heard narratives about who I should be all my childhood. I bet you did, too.

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Mine were: 

You’re shy.

They thought you were blind when you were born. You still don’t notice things.

You are weird.

You are smart. You’re the smart one.

You aren’t an athlete. You have weak ankles.

You aren’t an artist. Nobody in this family is an artist.

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But who I thought I was meant to be was also defined by what was said about my much older siblings but never said about me: 

Your brother is so successful.

Look at his dimples. He’s so beautiful. People just stare and stare at him. What an athlete.

Your sister is so kind. Her heart is so big.

Your sister loves children. Your sister is so good.

plot pacing and proms writing tips
Me in a U2 shirt, hiding my face because I’m the quirky one, not the good looking one.

Those narratives shape us. Combine them with comparing ourselves to television tropes and superheroes, rom-coms and Instagram perfection and it’s hard to be okay with who we are. Shakespeare said that comparisons are odious. There’s a reason for that. They make us feel shame. They make us feel jealous. They make us feel less. Or they make us think of others as less.

Here’s the thing: Nobody is less. I’m going to leave you with two solid paragraphs of Havrilensky because her article is brilliant and true.

What if you just decided that you’re an artist, today, right now? You’re sensitive and erratic, maybe. You’re maudlin and also expansive. What would it look like to own that identity, as a means of making art, sure, but also as a means of owning your FULL SELF? You wouldn’t feel as angry at other artists. You would recognize them as kindred spirits. You might notice how your shame matches theirs, and fuels all of you. You might feel proud of your small creations and you might start to see how every single thing you’ve done, every place you’ve been, every town you’ve lived in and left, every friend you’ve gotten to know and then forgotten, they all add up to a giant pile of treasure.

You are 95 years old, looking back at your 35-year-old self, and this is what you see: a young woman, so young, so disappointed, even though everything is about to get really good. She doesn’t see how much she’s accomplished, how much she’s learned, how many new joys await her. She doesn’t know how strong she is. She is blindfolded, sitting on a mountain of glittering gems. She is beautiful, but she feels ugly. She has a rich imagination and a colorful past, but she feels poor. She thinks she deserves to be berated because she has nothing. She has everything she needs.

What is it that you want to be? Who do you want to see? Be that person. Love that person.

Writing and Other News

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Art.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

Apply Now!

 

How to Be a Better Friend and Avoiding the #DEADTOME List

People lie – a lot.

 

And one of those lies is that they have a lot of friends. Or the opposite –  that they don’t need friends. Or maybe that they’re friends and their friendships are all super perfect.

 

We all know that one is a lie. Nobody is perfect – not in an all-encompassing, always-right way. Those one-dimensional stick figure cut-out representations of friendships are best left to television shows and bad fiction, not in our own narratives.

 

Real friends are gritty and confusing and beautiful and triumphant. Real friends know that you don’t always have your stuff together and they love you anyways. Real friends have your back when you’re sobbing into the phone hysterically and real friends don’t tell your secrets or lie about you.

 

Unless they do.

 

And those friends then sometimes become the people about whom you’re sobbing into the phone uncontrollably. You forgive them. Or you don’t. But you are definitely aware that they aren’t perfect.

 

None of us are.

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According to a 2017 article by Lydia Denworth for Psychology Today, there are three main elements to friendships. Those are:

Spending time with each other

Focusing on the positive parts of your friend and friendship, and

Helping each other.

 

What does that mean? The more time you spend with someone or thinking about them, the stronger the bond. The more you are silly, goofy, tell stories, dance around, build Legos with your friends, the more you associate them with happy chemical messages to your brain. The more you help your friend and your friend helps you, the more stable and good the friendship. (As opposed to those one-sided friendships where someone is trying to gain status through you, or always complains to you but never listens back, or always makes you pay the bill, etc.).

 

Allegedly, we have about five of those friendships in our whole entire lives. Those good friends? They are hard to find.

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Yes, this is my actual childhood handwriting.

 

When I was a little kid, I used to catalogue my friends. I don’t do that anymore. But back then, I basically created concentric circles of BEST FRIEND, GOOD FRIEND, POTENTIAL GOOD FRIENDS. People could move from place to place if I spent more time with them or felt closer to them. People could also fall completely off the charts. It’s all really childhood drama, and kind of extra, but it was there – this cataloguing, this being in ‘good graces’ versus ‘bad land of friendship exile.’

 

I’m not sure if I’ve grown up all that much, honestly.

 

Once a friendship goes toxic, I pull back. I give people second and third chances, but if they’re using me too much? I don’t ever reach out to them. If a friend lies to me? I don’t trust them much again. If a friend lies to someone else about me and I find out? I don’t trust them either.

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My friends and I at an SNL party. These are good friends because…SNL party. 

But here’s the thing – I still love those people, those no-longer-trusted-as-much friends. I love my friend that I caught cheating at a game night because he’s addicted to secret, social dangers. I love my friend that name drops constantly because she’s so insecure. I love my friend that lies because she hates her own life so much that she doesn’t remember what truth is anymore.

I will forgive almost everyone anything, until I won’t.

That’s because I know I’m not perfect either. I don’t dwell on my imperfections, the times I failed, but I have failed. A ton.

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

One time at my friend’s super-low-stakes weekly poker night, I explained that there are only five local people that are on my #deadtomelist. One called firefighters and my writing schmaltzy and then suggested I didn’t know what the word schmaltz meant.

He’s off that list now. He doesn’t matter.

One is a man who hurt dozens of women, a narcissist with a lot of issues.

He’s still on the list.

So, is the man who stalked me around town. So, is the police officer who wouldn’t listen when I tried to tell him about the man who stalked me around town.

And there’s one more person that I’m not going to mention.

You’ll notice people actually moved off that list, which I guess wasn’t named #foreverdeadtome, but just #deadtome.

Everyone at poker really wanted to know the names on my list. That’s because they didn’t think I could hate because I focus so much on love. But here’s the thing – I can hate. Everyone can hate. I just don’t dwell in the hate. My hate (when it happens) flies up like a rage, explodes like a firework and then disappears almost instantly except for a name on a list.

 

#Deadtome

He who hurts women

He who stalks

He who protects he who stalks

She who I will not mention

 

Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us. – Charles Spurgeon

 

I’m privileged in that I don’t have to or need to dwell on that hate and I’m lucky.  But the people who have done the absolute worst to me? The horrible things? They aren’t even on the #deadtomelist.

 

That doesn’t make sense, right?

 

But to me, for my mental health? Those people are so dead to me that they don’t even exist in my brain anymore. My brain is too full of beauty and friendship, of stories and dogs and cats and manatees, to get used up with them and their hurt and their evil. These people flash in my consciousness every once in awhile, but then they’re gone – so dead to me that I forget their existence.

 

The space they could inhabit? I fill it up with dreams, with friends, with love. So, that’s what I do.

Writing and Other News

I’ll be hanging out at Virginia Beach this weekend for an awesome book festival talking about my Moe Berg book that’s detailed below.

Art.

I do art stuff. You can find it and boy a print here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it sound fun. You can buy them here or anywhere.

 

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

 

After the Hurricane, Oysters, Kindness, and Survival

Apalachicola is a town that remembers its ghosts and welcomes them. This town on Florida’s panhandle, is a town of oysters and celebrations, proud of its history. It’s a town where the locals have pamphlets at the cemetery explaining who is reposed in more than 40 graves.

In this town of roughly 2,500 people, the friendliness is obvious in every interaction. Even one month after Hurricane Michael ripped through it and devastated neighboring communities, Apalachicola seems – wet, but lovely.

Things aren’t right.

This town on the bay, the second oldest European settlement in Florida, is usually full of tourists spending money in the small restaurants and art galleries, going on fishing trips, filling up the rooms in hotels, inns and weekly rentals, but not this year. Even the man who comes from Maine to sell his blueberries every November is a no show.

 Dan, one of the owners of Hole in the Wall Seafood, tells us this with a shake of his head. “I don’t know what happened to him. He just hasn’t shown.”

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A lot of visitors haven’t shown. Maybe they are afraid of what they’ll see, Dan wonders. Some buildings look permanently shut down. Floors are buckled. Windows are holes. Squeegees and bleach can’t fix everything, but sometimes you can still get a whiff of the bleach, which is better than the stench of mold, which emanates from some of the buildings closer to the water. The storm surge was about 9.5 feet here. That’s a lot of water that sloshed through the two lower streets that run parallel to the water.

 

The workers at the Hole in the Wall Seafood catalogue their friends’ losses to the group of diners that come in and sit at a high table. Normally, this time of year you can’t find a spot to sit in this cozy, friendly restaurant that features oysters (of course) and cajun grouper. But nothing is normal and it’s evident by their conversation. One friend has lost a porch. Another lost their oyster building. Another lost half their roof. Someone lost a car to a tree. Someone and someone else and someone else lost their house.

“You were in Spain for the storm?” Dan asks from his station behind the bar as a woman arrives, joining her friends at that back table.

“Mm-hmm,” she says.

“Yeah,” one of them teases. “You missed a good time.”

“She just got the evacuation notice and kept on goin’. All the way to Spain,” they tease and there’s laughter all around until someone else adds, “Was a good idea.”

A month later and the words and people are still brave, but the emotion is still raw.

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Oysters

 

Apalachicola has been Florida’s oyster capitol for a long while, but the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 created a disaster for the oyster industry and its workers. A bay becoming increasingly salty has also allowed sea predators to suck out the oysters and leave just empty shells. It’s a double-whammy that has slammed the industry and its people.

 

The reason for the bay’s saltiness has even created a legal battle between Florida and Georgia with Florida claiming that Georgia is hogging up the water. Florida receives less fresh water and the bay becomes more and more salty. This allows sea predators like oyster drills to hang out in the estuary and eat the oysters, plundering at will in the increased salinity.

 

Apalachicola oysters used to be 90% of Florida’s wild supply and 10% of the United States’. That  isn’t true anymore. Farm-raised oysters have taken over the industry.

 

The grandfathers and fathers of Apalachicola’s modern-day oystermen used to use tongs to lick up 50 or so oysters a pop. Now it takes 50 tong licks to get just a couple oysters. Instead, oyster men are trying to rebuild the oyster beds that were devastated after the oil spill and now after the hurricane.

 

“I don’t know what will happen,” one man announced at the bar, laughing in that bitter way that happens. “Maybe we’ll all go to Maine and lobster.”

 

“Freeze your balls off,” a waitress announced.

 

“Yeah. Forget that.” He laughed and took a swig of his beer.

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Hurricane Michael

 

And then came Michael.

 

They’ve had hurricanes before. There are tall stakes in the ground to estimate storm surge by hurricane category. One is right by the playground. Another waits closer to the center of town. Warnings. Memories. Ghosts of hurricanes past measured in feet and fears of hurricanes yet to come.

 

“Waves were breaking in my front yard,” the man at the Hole in the Wall tells us. “It came in around 2:30. I had five or six people with me on the patio. The roof sheet metal? It just started peeling off. That’s some sharp stuff. I hustled everyone in. I think my patio’s down by the raw bar now.”

 

He faired better than his neighbors, only losing a patio and bins full of clothes and other items. He jokes that a seaweed berm probably saved his house, shakes his head about his luck, the randomness of hurricane winds and waves.

 

The rest of the customers and staff go back to cataloguing their losses, their neighbors’ losses, a seemingly never-ending litany of damage. Floods took the 13-Mile processing plant, which lost its roof because the walls blew off. The two downtown streets, Commerce and Water, flooded.  The neighboring town of Port Saint Joe was hit even harder than Apalachicola. But the McDonald’s there is open again even though the building was flooded out, windows are still being repaired and the toilets are in a trailer in the parking lot. Driving through the town, you see holes that shoot all the way through a house, houses moved 50 feet of their sites, sailboats jetting up towards the sky, the bottom submersed. You see mounds of debris on both sides of the roads, moldy sheet rock pulled from houses, broken trees, couches, mattresses, waiting to be disposed of.

Just driving down a street makes you a witness to destruction.

 

The loss of homes, of personal items, is horrific. But there’s also a loss of revenue. The Hole in the Wall estimates that it lost $30,000 in revenue for the two weeks it was closed. The second two weeks, the owners made about a quarter of what they usually make because the people just aren’t here.

 

Dan’s wife, our waitress, sighs and tells everyone that they could have opened sooner, but it didn’t feel right. They were busy feeding volunteers. From the Thursday after the storm through the Sunday, restaurantauers, volunteers, teachers, banned together to feed everyone, serving thousands of meals while waiting for electricity to come back to the town.

 

“It wouldn’t have felt right to open before that,” she says. “That would have – it just wouldn’t have been right.”

 

So, they helped the feed the town instead, for free.

 

IMG_8021

 

Survival

Apalachicola seems like a town that reinvents itself to survive. Before it was Apalachicola, it was a British trading post, Cottonton. Before it was Cottonton it was a settlement of a subgroup of the Seminoles. The name Apalchicola is a combination of Hitchiti words, apalahchi and okli.

 

During the Civil War, the USS Sagamore captured the town, occupying it for most of the fighting.

 

Before the railroad was popular, Apalachicola was the third biggest seaport on the Gulf. But then railroads came. So that changed. Thanks to Greek immigrants, the sponge trade was a major economic driver. But then that changed, too.

 

Back in 1837, the town allegedly had 600 meters of one brick store after another on the main street, a testament to its prosperity and health. Most of those buildings were three stories high and 25 meters deep. Granite pillars adorned every one of them. It doesn’t look like that now, time and industry, hurricanes and people, have changed the landscape and the economy over and over again.

 

Before the oysters, it was lumber.  It was sponges. It was a port city full of trade. What will it be next? That’s really the question.

 

And it’s a question for a lot of us and our towns, our cities. What do we become when our main industry dies? How do we reinvent ourselves, support our families and way of life when fisheries die off, when paper is no longer made, when Amazon goes under, or when climates change, when war comes? The act of reinvention, of survival, seems primary and so essential, but we never really focus enough on it, not in our daily lives, and not for our communities.

Apalachicola is impressive, not just because of the kindness of its people, but because of its capacity to change, to survive, to transform.

IMG_8029

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

 

“We help ourselves through it.” Surviving Darkness

Normally on Mondays, I write about life and things that I’ve observed, things that are happening. Sometimes, I use actual citations.

Gasp!

I know! I know! Citations.

But this Monday,  my blog is going to be a little raw. That’s because I think my heart is a little raw.

I spent the weekend in Houston, Texas, hanging out with the amazing crew at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston. I went there shortly after what is being called as the worst attack against Jews in our country.

On the way to the event, I rode over with this brilliant, beautiful woman, her 10-year-old daughter and author and awesome human Ethan Berlin. The driver’s daughter told me about the last time she saw our hotel, which was a year ago.

“It was during Harvey,” her mom added. “We came over in a tank.”

“Did you get to go inside the tank?” I asked.

The girl’s eyes lit up. She did. The hotel room was nice, too.

“It was pretty,” she said, but I could tell from her expression that it was all scary, too. Really scary.

Then the mother-daughter duo told us about how sometimes when it rains really hard, they get scared again, remembering the 49-inches of rain and devastation that Hurricane Harvey brought to their home, their community center, and their neighborhood.

“We help ourselves through it,” the mom said. “I taught her how to deal with it, but last week? She was the one who helped me remember how to cope.”

And I honestly almost lost it in the back seat of their car, hugging my backpack that held a puppet of Moe Berg, sitting next to this beautiful, brilliant kid. Because their love, their pain, and their pride in each other was so poignant and real.

It was so real.

We gathered around before the events started and talked about getting through things again. It was just tiny snippets of conversation, but this beautiful rabbi took it all in as everyone quickly connected with their trauma, their pains, the moments in their lives that were so big and catastrophic that they come back again and again, a refrain in a song that echoes.

“We all have those moments,” she said.

We do.

Later in the day, we were signing books in the most amazing pop-up bookstore ever, and a balloon broke, making that horrible snap that reminds so many people of gun shots and there was this moment – this absolute second immediately afterwards – where everyone paused, silent, trying to figure out what that noise was.

And then everything went back to normal, kids singing songs, grabbing books, moms and dads herding them around to authors and events, spending their Sunday celebrating kids, books, literacy and each other.

And it was beautiful. It was so beautiful.

This center serves 1,000 people every day. This time-lapse video shows how 12 feet of water ended up filling the 35,000-square-feet center. And they rebuilt. It is beautiful. People and kids filled that building again this past weekend. The community survived. The building survived. But it’s more than that. They thrived.

They helped themselves through it.

In this community are so many families, so many stories of good times, of bad, of helping themselves through things and coming out the other side as beautiful moments of light, connection, of poetry, of souls. And there is so much that this country, that this world, can learn about the act of coming together, of community, of connection, of helping each other through it.

If you haven’t voted yet, please vote tomorrow. Please vote on the ideas and ideas that resonate with you. Politics is more than attack ads. Politicians shape and create the laws and tenor of our nation. They support or deconstruct what our government and its branches actually are and what they can be.

And even after you’ve voted, please try to choose paths and actions that create goodness, equality, not disenfranchisement and hate. When we come together as communities, especially as intersectional communities, that’s when we evolve both as individuals and as a nation. Respect for difference and discourse goes a long way. But what doesn’t go along way? Killing each other. Oppressing each other.

We shouldn’t all be terrified when a balloon pops. We should be people who rebuild and thrive. We should be people who go to places of worship, walk in parking lots, go to schools and yoga studios and our own homes without being afraid, without being vulnerable.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s  out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

 

 

SaveSave

My Grandmother’s Ghost

Canadian Geese

By F.M.B.

Oct.2, ‘91

 

In the dim light of twilight you suddenly appear.

In swift and silent formation,

Determined in your flight to reach your destination,

Oh! Tell me who directs this urge

Never failing in direction?

Where are you now wondrous birds?

You break my heart headed for the land I love.

I shall remember you always

Indelibly imprinted in my brain.

Your silent flight guided by your leader.

 

When I was born, my mother was 35 and my father was 42, and he was the youngest child, too. 42 plus 18 equals 60, so my dad was 60 when I was 18. My Grammy Barnard? She was 33 when she had my dad. She was 75 when I was born, if that puts it into perspective. That’s like the age where when you die people say things like, “Well, she had a good, long life.”

She lasted in this world a lot longer than that.

My grandfather Barnard was 82 when I was born and died six years later. He was grim, austere, and full of edicts and judgements. He once ran for office as a communist. He’d been a stockbroker before that. He was not a kind man according to my mom.

He had a stroke in the bathtub and drowned, but my mom liked to pretend like Grammy Barnard finally had enough of his bullshit and held him under the water. She told this version only to me. She also would say, “You are so lucky to not know that man. He had a copy of Mein Kaumpf in the basement and when I called him on it, he said that it was good literature. Evil bastard.”

“Hitler or Grampa Barnard,” I usually asked.

“Both,” she usually said.

 

The point here is that I’d never known Grammy Barnard young.

The other point is that I’d never known Grammy Barnard not pining for youth.

The other point is that I’d never known her not stressed about death.

She would cry over the beauty of a tomato. She would cry over the pains in other people’s hearts.

Grammy Barnard Poem #2

March 11, 1927

 

A Wish

 

Love, she goes hand in hand with spring,

To thoughts of this girl then you will cling,

Go dear, and to her tell,

Of the desire you have in her heart to dwell,

Tell her while sweet spring is here,

Tell her while she still is near,

Tell her of moonlight, tell her of flowers,

Tell her of love, and its wondrous powers.

When she died she was 104. I was 30.

When the terrifying ex-communist, ex-stock broker, also known as Grampa Barnard died, my parents were already divorced. Everyone decided that my dad couldn’t handle living by himself very well. He was prone to melancholy, according to Grammy Barnard. My mom liked to say he was depressed. My dad would just say he “gets sad.”

He went to a therapist to talk about the divorce and how it made him sad and how his dad’s expectations also sometimes made him sad. He only made it to second grade. He could barely read. He was smart, but he was dyslexic before people really talked about dyslexia.

He was a sweet man. He forgave people anything. He forgave people everything. He was like a little hobbit who watched a lot of PBS and news shows. He would ask you insightful probing questions that would hit right to your soul. He could create tools for car engines. He could make a tree grow fast and strong in ways that honestly don’t seem human.

Anyways, Grammy Barnard had lived with my dad since I was six or seven and she had always been old to me.  When I went over to their little ranch house, she always took my face in her hands and said things like, “Ah, look at your skin. It’s so beautiful. The beautiful skin of youth.”

This was awkward.

She was about four feet eight inches tall and had a hump in her back. She wore silk blouses and liked pickled herring. I’m not sure why these facts seem important but they are somehow important.

She was tiny.

She also wrote poems and made paintings and had no faith in either.

My dad liked to announce, “My mother is a poet. She is an artistic person. She cries at the beauty of a tomato.”

She’d roll her eyes and say, “Lew.”

And he’d say, “You are, Ma.”

And she’d say, “My art and poems are rubbish.”

“They are not.”

“They are!” She put her hands over her face almost always, hiding from the kindness. “I despair of them. I can’t come close to recreating the beauty of this world.”

Grammy Barnard Poem #3

Truth, May 19, 1927

 

They say how we think so we are

And I from my guess room not afar,

From the truth of the feelings you have for me

My sensing heart does well know when yours is on a spree

Delicate instrument ticking like the clock,

Accurate recorder of each emotions shock.

Timid quaking little hart,

This man who tore your life apart.

 

And then she died. At 104. I was 30.

I eventually took the money she left me and used it to help pay for me to Vermont College of Fine Arts to get a Masters in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

When I got to Vermont I heard all about the ghosts in the college. The stories didn’t bother me. I’d heard about ghosts before. But one night, during the first residency after Lisa Jahn Clough convinced me to not quit. I’d been feeling despondent because all the other students were so much more knowledgable that I was about everything.

I came from the world of poetry and newspapers. Sports writing. Columns. Play reviews. Stories about planning boards. Deadlines. Quick turn-arounds. Hard facts.

And here I was surrounded by people who were splurting out phrases like “objective correlative” and “emotional resonance” and “desire through lines.”

I was sure I didn’t belong, especially after one student berated my lack of confidence as an insult to all women everywhere. That didn’t help my confidence, by the way. Tearing people down for not being confident enough, usually isn’t the best policy for building them up.

Anyway, Lisa convinced me to stay. But when I looked out the window an hour or so after our talk, I saw in front of me, my grandfather, angry looking, wearing his austere clothes, blood coming out of his ear.

I was on the second floor and my grandfather was dead, long dead, and he stared at me with the most hateful eyes.

And then, I heard the voice of my grandmother behind me, loud and strong, “You are not rubbish.”

I whirled around. She wasn’t there. I turned back around towards the window and there was no creepy old grandfather full of judgement. He was gone.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s  out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Ebook on Sale for October! 

And finally, for the month of July, my book NEEDis on sale in ebook version on Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically about human-sized pixies trying to start an apocalypse.

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 3.56.50 PM

I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

 

 

What Makes a Place Real?

Where I live, my friends are weird and tourists visit. A lot. They fly or drive and ramble through our national park hitting the TOP TEN DESTINATIONS OF ACADIA NATIONAL PARK and when we meet them at our comedy club or at a restaurant, they’ll brag about seeing the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, about having pop-overs at Jordan Pond, about driving the Park Loop Road and seeing Thunder Hole.

Don’t get me wrong. All of that is awesome.

IMG_7169
Jesup Trail

But what mostly happens, is that the tourists almost always say, “I love it here. I think we’ve seen everything, right?”

And I never know if I should tell them the truth, that ‘No, you haven’t seen everything. You’ve seen the tourist things at one brief moment in time. You haven’t seen winter. You haven’t seen our bed races or our cantankerous town meetings. You haven’t seen volunteers spend a day giving out water to marathon runners with no goal other than to help. You haven’t seen the volunteer firefighters get up at 2 a.m. to put out a fire or respond to a car accident and then witnessed them stand in sub zero weathers for hours to keep a road closed. You haven’t seen a talent show at the grammar school. You haven’t seen a fist fight on Main Street after bar close.”

Okay. Maybe they’ve seen that.

mdi marathon
mdi marathon

Where I live people tell stories of bad parking jobs, winters where there were no snow, winters where there were 500 feet of snow, about times when a girl was crushed by a boulder that she and her friend had been jumping on and somehow dislodged. The friend survived because her petticoats got caught in a tree. She dangled all night before rescue came.

People here tell stories of jumping off docks, parties in fishing shacks with cheap beer they stole from convenience stores. These stories? They are lullabies and mantras, ways that they rock themselves to solace because the past is over and the future can sometimes be scary, but story – stories – you can craft and shape and collect.

IMG_7146
Jesup Trail

People here tell stories and create them every winter, clustering together in small groups and large, fortifying themselves with bonfires and wood stacking, community theater and random nights out at the few restaurants that stay open all year. Sometimes, I think we might actually worship those few restaurants for being there and supporting a community where the numbers dwindle every year.

And there are places and movements to remember and try to retain the stories of people who were here before this town was called Eden. Part of the Abbe Museum’s mission is to remind us that “Maine is a Wabanaki place.”

IMG_1685
Geo Neptune at the Abbe Museum’s summer market event

And people here complain. They complain about a lack of housing, about a dock, about taxes, about politicians. They make petitions and protest and worry. And it’s all good, because it means they care enough to complain, to protest, to make a petition.

IMG_7164
Witch Hole Pond Trail

The tourists don’t get to see that. And I am sad for them. But I’m also sad for me – for all the places that I visit and don’t get to really see and experience because I won’t get to spend even a year there, because I might not venture off a well-beaten tourist path and really breathe in a place. Because I won’t get to see the beloved stories of a town or a city or a country and hear what makes a place real.  And because some of those stories of the past, of other cultures before, aren’t sung out as loudly as other stories.

IMG_0043
Nicole and Them on Patten Pond

What makes a place real isn’t buying a t-shirt or getting a meal at TripAdvisor’s #1 ranked restaurant. What makes it real is something that moves and breathes and changes. Because what makes it real are its people and how they interact with place and with each other. I feel so lucky whenever I get to get a glimpse of that. I hope you do, too.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s  out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode tomorrow!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Ebook on Sale for October! 

And finally, for the month of July, my book NEED is on sale in ebook version on Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically about human-sized pixies trying to start an apocalypse.

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 3.56.50 PM

I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

 

 

 

The Politics of Hope and Despair and Anger

This weekend one of my tweets was put in a Twitter Moment, which are ‘curated stories’ that someone puts together almost like a slideshow. And it was a little strange because while there were suddenly thousands of likes, there were also some random people saying that I made the tweet/interaction up.

And part of me was like, “Wow. They think I’m that clever! That’s so nice.”

And another part of me was like, “Wow. Humanity is pretty sad if people are grumpy about my tweet.”

And then there was a whole other aspect when a couple of people used my tweet to expose their hate about lesbians.

“Don’t look,” my friends told me. “Just don’t even read the comments. There’s nothing you can do.”

 

Hope and despair and anger.

In politics they can be collective movements, ways to band together. And right now many of my friends are full of despair and longing for hope. And a couple of my friends are full of hope. And some are full of anger. And I am full of all of those emotions and more.

And I worry for all of us.

“All we need is… all we need is hope and for that we have each other,” Andra Day sings in her song ‘Rise Up,’ which you should absolutely go listen to whenever possible because it’s a brilliant song by a talented woman.

Pluralism

Back in 1993, John Rawls talked about how in a pluralistic society with multiple points of views and desired outcomes, there can be no final consensus amongst us, its citizens.

My tweet was a little bit of evidence about that, but Rawls is talking more about government and political outcomes.

He argued that governments can’t make all citizens happy, so all we can expect is for the government to go after those main causes that almost everyone agrees on – human rights, to not discriminate, to make decisions in a democratic and rational way. Anything bigger than that? It’s impossible to achieve.

And this is sort of amusing now (in a bad way) because it seems that even those main causes are no longer agreed upon. I mean, I’ve been trolled for writing about sexual trafficking and human trafficking. It seems like ending human slavery would be one of those main causes that everyone agrees on. And yet…?

Self Respect

Decades before this, back in the 1970s, Rawls noted that the self respect is integral. A citizen of a society can only have self respect when she/he/they know that their country is committed to justice and fair treatment for them.

And that expectation – that they matter, that they won’t be discriminated against, that the laws are fair – is currently being dismantled for a lot of Americans and for many Americans, that expectation has been pretty fragile for awhile now because of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, physical ability, and class.  For some of the disenfranchised that expectation has barely existed ever. Yet, there needs to be hope that that expectation will exist and will be met, that we will all be heard, treated with dignity, be free and safe to worship, marry, vote, learn, and live without threat of bodily harm.

So how do you find hope?

Remember these things:

  1. Younger generations are smart and charged up.
  2. More diverse people are running for office
  3. The more extreme people get, the more there becomes a call for the middle – and leaders for that middle. Consensus builders. We need consensus builders in a world of polarities.
  4. The stripping away of belief in institutions and in our selves actually leads us towards a collective orientation towards hope again, towards something we can (or most of us can) work towards. Because all the good guys want rights, want respect, want others to be respected, too.

As Sam Dresser writes, “When political movements seek to rekindle hope, they are not acting on the assumption that individual people no longer hope for things – they are building on the idea that hope does not currently shape our collective orientation toward the future. The promise of a ‘politics of hope’ is thus the promise that hope for social justice will become part of the sphere of collective action, of politics itself.”

Hope and despair and anger? They can co-exist. They can lead to action. They aren’t definitive states. I despair that some people are evil and I’m angry at injustices, but I hope that I can take action and change things and that we can collectively rise about those things, and that I personally can become a better human. I hope you’ll do that, too.

My despair and anger can lead to hope and action and change. The emotions can overlap and coexist just like people do. But to do that, we have to ‘have each other,’ as Andra Day sings.

So, let’s do that. Let’s have each other instead of having at each other.

WRITING NEWS

NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up!

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 3.56.50 PM

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought comes out tomorrow! Check it out, like and subscribe!

My Post-2 copy

Bears Like Me

One night a long while ago, due to a top secret mission (that involved NOTHING illegal or alcohol, I swear) I came home at 4:30 a.m.  When I stepped out of the MINI, I was sort of weirded out.

There was a noise in the woods.

Hm, I thought, pixies?

No, I thought. Pixies are just in my NEED books. They aren’t actually in the woods.

This thought did not help since the things in my books tend to happen to me in real life after I write them. So being a calm and normal writer, I freaked out and ran inside. Tala, the Super Dog (who is no longer with us) was waiting at the door.

She leapt on me, kissed me, and then Tala the Super Dog reminded me that she is Tala the Super Pee Dog. She made her needs very clear by running around in circles by the door and giving me puppy dog sad eyes.

Tala: Seriously? It’s a long night when you can’t use a toilet.

So, I snapped on the leash and brought her outside. She immediately went into SOMETHING IS WRONG mode and started smelling in circles and growling and sniffing, hauling me up the driveway with her leash fully extended and totally ignoring all my please to sit, stay, slow down, and just-stop-for-the-love-of-God-just stop.

She was a Pyr. They don’t listen when they think they know better than you do. This is so true that there are memes and gifs about it.

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So, I held on and prayed.

And that is when there was a noise in the big long grass by the side of the driveway.
And that is when I stopped walking.
And that is when I started murmuring, Please don’t let evil pixies be real.
And that is when Tala freaked out completely.

It was not ‘freaking out,’ human. It was DOGGY DEFENSE MODE! Geesh.

She lunged and growled and then got very still. I wrapped the leash around my wrists and held on with both hands. All of Tala’s doggy hairs stood up straight. So, um, did mine.

And that is when the bear came out of the underbrush.
And that is when the bear got all bristly.

And that is when Tala got macho and all, YOU ARE SO NOT COMING ANY CLOSER BEAR.
And that is when the bear got all, OH YEAH . YOU THINK YOU CAN TAKE ME?

And that is when I thought, ALL THE OTHER BLACK BEARS I’VE EVER MET WERE SHY.
And that is when I thought, OH MAN!!! OH MAN!!! IT’S GOING TO KILL MY SUPER DOG.

And that is when I got super human strength and somehow yanked Tala back and ran in reverse into the garage, dragging her the whole way.

Tala: Let me just say, I let it her drag me back. Carrie is a pacifist. She couldn’t have handled the gore. Plus, I didn’t want to humiliate that bear. Bears have such egos.

Anyway, I have seen a lot of bears in the woods and I have never been scared of them, not ever, but that morning? Totally different story.

And it kind of reminds me of my life right now. All these normal things like writing and revising and blogging and living, walking dogs, hugging friends, things I love, have all become a tiny bit scary. And even when other people try to protect me, it’s really up to me to hang on and do the right thing and haul butt into the garage and regroup.

Is your life ever like that?

If it is, I’m sending you a Tala. If it is, I want you to have hope. If it is, I want you to know that you are important and beautiful and you matter.

But even though they are a tiny bit scary, I still love these things, even people. Yes, even the scary people. I hope you can find love and hope, too.

Here’s the only thing I know: It’s worth it to go up the driveway and face the bears.

WRITING NEWS

NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up! :

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LINK TO BUYING THIS BAD BOY

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

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The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought comes out tomorrow! Check it out, like and subscribe!

Resist The Silence

My dad was a dark-skinned man, ethnically Portuguese, but in the New Hampshire in the summer nobody knew exactly what he was and they all wanted to define him.

“What are you? Italian? Mexican?” People would ask.

He built a jewelry store for members of a mafia family. They insisted he was Italian. He’d shrug when my mom got annoyed about this.

“You work like a Mexican. You’re Mexican, right?” Some guy said to him once.

“You? What are you? Native? You a Cherokee or something?” People would ask because all First Nation people are somehow Cherokee even in New Hampshire.

Decades before I was born, he gave up trying to explain who he was. People had already labeled him.  And relabeled him. And labeled him again.

One time, we were out fishing and some young white guys came up and freaked out because I was pretty pale compared to my dad and they decided that he’d abducted me. Or something.

They called him the n-word. They threatened him. He just took it and took it and took it silently.  I eventually yelled for them to leave my daddy alone. I was pretty young and scared. All I really understood was that they were mean and that they were mean because they were being racist.

When we were driving back home, I asked him why he didn’t tell them that he wasn’t black. I asked him why he didn’t fight back. And I’m sure there were a lot of reasons he didn’t articulate and some that he probably did, but the one that I remember is this:

“I am lucky enough to be born a white man. What we had to deal with out there, I’m sorry that you had to see it, baby, but what black men and women deal with all the time? It’s so much worse.”

For my dad that was a long speech.

What was special about him was that he noticed other people’s situations, the things that they had to deal with. He never prioritized his experienced because he was “one piece of humanity.” Not all of it.

 

IN ORDER TO BE UNIFIED YOU HAVE TO NOTICE OTHERS; YOU CAN’T HELP OTHERS IF YOU EXIST IN YOUR OWN BUBBLE

Last Monday I talked about women’s anger and this week, I’m talking about unity. Sort of.

Audre Lorde wrote in Eye to Eye, “Sometimes exploring our differences feels like marching out into war.”

But sometimes just noticing each other seems almost impossible. You would think in the world of social media that we would come into more contact with difference, but that’s not always the case.

Divides are not new. The divide between parties or political ideologies, between races or genders or class or religion or ways of loving, is old and it morphs. Us humans seem to like ‘sides’ and ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ and teams. There are some really interesting studies by the Pew Research Center that talk about political polarization.

But the divide doesn’t have to be all that happens. Unity doesn’t mean that we all have to think/be/do the same things. Unity doesn’t have to be forced homogeneity. Neither does love.

But that can’t happen if we only live in polarities.

And it can’t happen if we only know about people who fit our own demographics and psychographics. It can’t happen when we only know what’s going on with people who look/think/live like us.

We have to notice and respect other people’s experiences.

THE FACEBOOK POST

Yesterday, a post went around Facebook asking women to black out their photos for a specific reason.

Tomorrow, female blackout from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Its a movement to show what the world might be like without women. Your profile photo should just be a black square so that men wonder where the women are. Pass it only to women … It’s for a project against domestic abuse. It is no joke. Share it

My Post-16

Typos are not mine for a change. 🙂

The originators wanted everyone to be silent and to make their profile pictures a black box, like the one above. According to Forbes, the chain message actually began in 2017. It’s surfaced a few times and picked up steam last weekend.  Since yesterday, I’ve seen a lot of my friends shift their profile picture to a square and then switch back. I’ve seen blog posts and status updates about how this is actually silencing us as women and silencing our voices and how we should be roaring instead of silent.

I appreciate that.

But there was a bit more going on yesterday, too.

MARCHES FOR BLACK WOMEN

Yesterday was also part of a weekend full of Marches for Black Women. Here’s a post about it from Bustle. According to the website, “The physical, financial, and social enrichment of the nation-state at the expense of Black bodies and at the expense of Black lives is too old a strategy, and Black women will not allow for it.

These marches  are happening on an important date in U.S. history. It’s the anniversary of the Elaine Massacres where it’s estimated that over 200 were killed as a response to unionizing, which white landowners found threatening.

And the thing is that I know that my white friends who were upset about domestic violence and I know that my liberal friends who are upset about the Kavanaugh hearings wouldn’t want to be complicit in not amplifying black voices let alone ignoring them. But I don’t think they knew about the marches this weekend. I bet many of us don’t know about the Elaine Massacres.  Our ignorance might not be intentional, but it’s there. And what message does it give to WOC when we’re saying, “Hey, let’s all be quiet on this day that you chose to march, to shout out your needs, to put yourself front and center.”

It sends a really strong message even when it’s unintentional.

LOOKING OUTSIDE OUR BUBBLES

And we need to do better. We need to educate ourselves and look outside our bubbles. We need to be outraged not just about white women, but about the treatment of all women. We need to hear voices that come from backgrounds that are not our own and from needs that are not our own. Even when it’s hard.

“Mainstream Communication does not want women, particularly white women, responding to racism. It wants racism to be accepted as an immutable given in the fabric of your existence, living evening time or the common cold.”—Audre Lorde. “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism” Sister Outsider. Crossing Press Berkley. 1984. Originally published as the keynote presentation at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference, Storrs, Connecticut, June 1981

Racism should not be a given, not in our culture, not in our own selves.

 

My dad was right about a lot of things, but especially about being an ally and recognizing that your experience isn’t everyone else’s.

In this age of social media, it’s so important to remember that, and to be aware that there are other voices out there, many ways to be disenfranchised, and caring about those other voices doesn’t mean you aren’t taking care of yourself. It means we raise each other up as we all attempt to rise up to greater heights and understandings and a better world for everyone.

But don’t be silent or call for silence. Because it doesn’t make us stronger. It makes us unheard.

 

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Obviously, there is a time for silence – when you are listening to other people, to the disenfranchised and not pushing your words and agenda into their space. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about choosing group silence as the disenfranchised/oppressed group while those in power still talk, write, and are heard.

Some Resources

Some really good stories about America’s First Black Women’s Club are here

If you are interested in reading more kid lit with Black voices, check out the Brown Bookshelf.

If you’d like to read some really good speeches, check out here (Mary Church Terrell). 

And finally, for more about Audre Lorde, check out the Audre Lorde Project.

WRITING NEWS

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

 

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought will be up tomorrow. Check it out, like and subscribe!

Five Ways to Write Happy
Five Ways to Write Happy