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In English-speaking countries, children might read Grimm or Andersen, or for modern authors, Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, Astrid Lingren, Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter or even people like R.L. Stine. What do Japanese children read? What helps inform their world view and shape their moral spirit? Well, some of the same stories do get translated and Japanese children are exposed to them to different extents, but what about Japanese literature written by Japanese people?
If you were to ask this question, one of the first names to pop up would be Mimei Ogawa. He was born in 1882 in the north of Japan in a cold and harsh climate, a place called Niigata. He became the first Japanese author to be recognized as solely devoted to children's literature as a professional. His real name is Kensaku. One of his colleagues named him Mimei. The colleague who christened him so claims it means "meditating child," but if you take the literal definition of the characters, it can read "not quite bright yet" or if you just go by the ear, it can sound like the modern Japanese polite, professional expression for "early morning," often heard in the news.
A young Mimei Ogawa
Mimei's most famous story is arguably The Mermaid and the Red Candle. This story shares some similarities with Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid. If you were to compare the two, despite the arguments that Andersen's tale originally ended in tragedy, Mimei's story sounds like it was written by the biggest, most depressed Eeyore on the planet when contrasted with the jubilant tone of the more famous mermaid.
Let's compare their openings, shall we?
Far out in the ocean, where the water is as blue as the prettiest cornflower, and as clear as crystal, it is very, very deep; so deep, indeed, that no cable could fathom it: many church steeples, piled one upon another, would not reach from the ground beneath to the surface of the water above. There dwell the Sea King and his subjects. We must not imagine that there is nothing at the bottom of the sea but bare yellow sand. No, indeed; the most singular flowers and plants grow there; the leaves and stems of which are so pliant, that the slightest agitation of the water causes them to stir as if they had life. Fishes, both large and small, glide between the branches, as birds fly among the trees here upon land. In the deepest spot of all, stands the castle of the Sea King. Its walls are built of coral, and the long, gothic windows are of the clearest amber. The roof is formed of shells, that open and close as the water flows over them. Their appearance is very beautiful, for in each lies a glittering pearl, which would be fit for the diadem of a queen.
The Sea King had been a widower for many years, and his aged mother kept house for him. She was a very wise woman, and exceedingly proud of her high birth; on that account she wore twelve oysters on her tail; while others, also of high rank, were only allowed to wear six. She was, however, deserving of very great praise, especially for her care of the little sea-princesses, her grand-daughters. They were six beautiful children; but the youngest was the prettiest of them all; her skin was as clear and delicate as a rose-leaf, and her eyes as blue as the deepest sea; but, like all the others, she had no feet, and her body ended in a fish’s tail...
Mermaids don't just live in the southern seas. They also live in the northern seas.
The northern seas were blue. One time, on a rock, a mermaid rose and looked out over the seas while she rested.
The moonlight that leaked from between the clouds was lonely, it shone upon the waves. No matter where you look, endlessly, huge waves moved, coiling and roiling.
"What a lonely view," thought the mermaid. "We're not very different from humans in form. If you compare us to the fish and the beasts of rough and surly temperament that live on the very bottom of the ocean floor, you would certainly know how much closer we lean, in spirit and body, toward humans. But even so, why must we be made to live together with the rough beasts and fish in the dark, cold sea where our spirits are liable to wilt?"
In the long years and months till now, always living with no one to talk to, always wishing for the bright surface of the ocean, the mermaid's feelings could hardly be contained. So, on nights when the moon would shine brightly, it was her perpetual habit to float on the surface of the ocean, rest upon the rocks, and indulge herself in various day dreams.
The translation is mine. (The majority of Mimei's work is in the public domain.)
According to various sources who knew him at the time, Mimei Ogawa was the picture of the classic misanthropist: he did not have many friends, loved to study (particularly Chinese letters and fairy tales), was short-tempered and didn't mix well with groups of people. When he moved to Tokyo, he rethought his values, being influenced by Russian literature, he strongly sympathized with the plight of the proletariat and allied himself with a similar movement in Japanese literature. He wrote novels as well, but his many, many short stories (over 1000) are more famous.
His stories were constantly about miserable, depressed people running into misfortune and tragedy; they almost always ended unhappily and reflected Mimei's own sorry life. He craved literary attention, but didn't receive much for quite a while. He lived a very poor life and constantly struggled to survive, cursing the bourgeoise. He wrote in the style of famous tales for children, but did not claim that they were children's stories.
Then in 1926, after becoming involved with his alma mater's club on children's literature, he declared himself solely devoted toward literature for children. After the war ended, Japanese politicians looked for leaders to bring up morally upright Japanese citizens and Mimei was selected, in 1946, to become the first leader of the Japanese Organization for Children's Scholars, further finding praise in 1951 as a bungaku-kourousha, something like a purple heart the Japanese government awards people who make significant cultural contributions to the country. It literally means "cultural laborer." Can you smell the irony?
His fables and stories became even more popular and were praised among a much wider group of people. He was extolled as the premier and best teller of children's stories. He became something of the model, the example for everyone else to live up to and enjoyed fame and money like no other time in his unhappy poor, miserable life untill that point.
Funny thing, though. If you compare the stories before he was widely noticed and praised, and after, there is a notable difference. The stories afterwards are filled with silliness and happiness and have mostly abandoned any of the romantic imagery and woe-is-me, the-world-is-a-horrible-place-kids aesthetic of his earlier stories. Critics nowadays tend to view his later work pretty harshly, whereas his many depressing stories where characters meet awful fates (written from roughly 1914 to 1926) are viewed as masterpieces. Why is this? Would you like to hear a sample of one of his post-I'm-a-children's-writer-look-at-me stories? "There is a box that is wonderful! It can do or be almost anything. This little boy is so happy because this box is wonderful and mysterious!" I'm paraphrasing, but that's literally all there is of a one-page short story he wrote in the later time period.
Even still, some of his stories contain remnants of his past tortured soul and there are a couple that stand out. However, nearly every short fable he wrote before his revelation in 1926 is amazing. I used to beg my mom and dad to read The Mermaid and the Red Candle. To me the sadness and unhappiness in the story was beautiful.
Unfortunately, for Mimei, he went out not with a bang, but a long, embarrassing whimper, something like the sound a balloon makes when it is let out of air. Just at the time of his death in the early 60s, a new group of children's writers emerged who shunned quite a few of the old guard and claimed their writing was facile, amateur and could not compare to the greats. In a shocking, controversial and absolutely pivotal book called Children and Literature, Mimei was demonized as a petty charlatan who was too drunk on his own sorrow to write appropriate, realistic children's literature. The clincher? Some of them were from the same college Mimei studied at and where he had headed the club for children's literature. This publication had a massive influence on children's literature from that period on. You can still find people arguing hotly about it. Mimei's reputation has recovered nicely since then, as the movement that that lasted almost 20 years and began after Children and Literature started to fade into yet another new movement.
One wonders what would have happened to both Mimei's reputation and his work if he had remained an obscure, struggling writer.
Children and Literature
His childhood home was at the foot of a mountain slope and his father built a temple to enshrine a piece of the famous Uesugi Kenshin (some recognize him as a famous general in Japanese civil wars) soul. The temple was built at the top of a sharp incline, so it was a tough trip to the top. In Niigata, at that time, when a child was born, it wasn't expected that they would live very long, so they were often given to other houses temporarily. Mimei (at the time he was known as Kensaku) was given to a candlemaker's house.
This inarguably influenced The Mermaid and the Red Candle. In the story, the mermaid we were introduced to is the pregant mother of our main character. She abandoned her newly-born daughter near a small shrine, thinking that although it will be painful to part with her child, it will be better for her to live in the utopian world above ground where she believes humans are saints compared to her world. A candlemaker and his old wife lived near the foot of a mountain where a shrine was built. Mimei paints this scene of fisherman buying candles to make their way up the mountain as they walk up a forest of pines that creak in the wind, and how the red flames of the candles can be seen from many miles away.
One day, the old woman decided to thank the god of the shrine, because without the shrine, they would not be able to sell so many candles and earn their livelihood. On the way back from the shrine, she found the abandoned mermaid. Both candlemakers reasoned that the mermaid is a gift from god to them and despite not being human, they decided to raise the mermaid because her face looked pretty and human like theirs, and because they thought the god of the shrine might punish them if they don't. She grew into a beautiful, quiet child, but in order to hide her mermaid origins, they confined her to the back of the shop. They explained to visitors that she was too shy and thus the customers were only allowed to see her face. Nevertheless, the townspeople were enchanted by the candlemakers' young daughter and began to frequent the candle shop more often just to see her beautiful face.
The young mermaid saw her father working to create the candles and her mother working to sell them. She thought that if she drew pictures of her spontaneous dreams and thoughts, even more customers would come to buy the candles. The old candlemaker let her use red paints on white candles and she drew scenes of seaweed, fish and seashells that, despite nobody having shown or taught her of, she painted with stunning clarity and beauty.
These candles became the talk of the town and before long, a strange rumor began to spread. If one bought a candle from the candlemaker's shop and took it to the shrine on the top of the mountain, burned the candle until only a small remnant was left, that remnant would act as a talisman to ward off trouble at sea. No sailor would meet storms or squalls if they carried one of the remnant's red candles invoked at the shrine. In fact, they would meet nothing but good fortune. Before long, the candlemaker's shop became famous through the known world and customers crowded the shop from day to night. Nobody spared a thought, however, toward the mermaid who worked wearily all day long and all night long, till the very tips of her fingers were sore. She often looked out her window toward the sea, yearning for it, longing for it, tears in her eyes.
The Mermaid and the Red Candle
After a time, as the fame of the shop spread, it attracted the attention of a showman from the south. Whether he had heard it or seen through the disguise, he knew the candlermakers' daughter was a mermaid. He approached them and offered a very large amount of gold to buy the mermaid. At first, they refused, saying that if they gave her up, the god would punish them, but after he came again and convinced them that mermaids were unlucky and would eventually bring misfortune on them, they relented. The mermaid did not want to go, but no matter how she pleaded that she would work all day and night to sell candles, the candlemakers would not listen to her and remained resolute. At night, she would look at the sea in sadness and often felt that something was calling her toward it, but when she looked out the window nothing was there. One night, the showman came to take her away, bringing an iron jail cell to imprison her with in his wagon. He reasoned that since he had used such a cell for wild beasts such as tigers and lions, and the mermaid was no different from such beasts, she belonged in such a cage. When the mermaid saw it, she was so horrified she put all her might into painting the candles at her feet, but it was no use -- she was dragged into the cage and in the commotion, red paint spilled all over the candles. After that night, the only thing left behind of the mermaid's life in that town were a couple of completely crimson candles.
In middle of the same peaceful night, the old candlemaker woman was awoken by a "knock, knock!" at the door. Opening it, she found a woman with a pale face and long, beautiful black hair pleading to buy a candle. Never wanting to pass up the chance for money, she opened the candle box and took out one of the mermaid's red candles. Under the light, she was surprised to find that the woman's black hair was soaking wet, but after looking long and hard at the red candle, the woman gave her coins and left. After checking the coins in stronger light, the old woman noticed they were in fact seashells. Thinking she had been tricked, she flew out of her shop in anger to confront the woman, but could find her nowhere. That night, the sea and sky changed. Just as the showman was putting the mermaid in her cage on the ship, the sea burst alive in a fit of furious storms. The candlemakers mused that the ship would go down and in the morning, they found it to be true: all around, many ships had sunk to the bottom of the ocean in a storm no one had seen in many a year.
In a curious change, now when red candles burned at the shrine atop the mountain, the seas would awaken in a rage of storms unlike any the world had seen. Even still, occasionally someone who had heard of the luck of the mountain shrine would come to light a candle, but it always ended in tragedy and death. Soon, rumor spread that the god had cursed the town and the shrine. No one came to buy candles. The candlemakers' shop went out of business. Eventually, the shrine and the town were abandoned into ruin and rot. But even though nobody dare approach the cursed place anymore, people reported strange stories. On cloudy nights when the stars cannot be seen and it rains all night long, dancing and floating above the waves, the flames of a red candle can be seen to rise, slowly and inexorably to the cursed mountain shrine and burn malevolently throughout the night.
(Resources: This collection and this collection of Mimei Ogawa stories don't seem to be widely in print any more. I cannot vouch for the former, but even though the latter can be found at Amazon, I don't recommend the foreword or cultural notes. They seem to be blinkered with a hilariously exaggerated orientalism. Modern Japanese Stories: An Anthology contains only one of Mimei Ogawa's stories, but he's in there alongside many other award-winning luminaries, giving you an idea of the stature he commands in his homeland. This is an audio recording The Mermaid and the Red Candle in Japanese. While I cannot find any free online sources for this story, you may enjoy listening to how it sounds for a Japanese child to hear this story read to them. The place that corresponds to the part of the story I translated is from 20 seconds in to the 1:44 mark in the first audio file.)
That's it for now! See you again later! Good night and good luck!
Let’s Defecate Correctly
Young children have it best. Chores are done for them, they are spoon fed with playful attention, and of course, they enjoy the luxury of nappies. The vicissitudes of growing up entails a process of moving past said juvenile methods of defecation. Today, the use of the toilet is a challenge that most children must socially accept.
What about the dilemmas of the modern toilet? Maybe the seat is too cold or even too warm? It is not clean enough. Will I fall into the bowl? These anxieties are usually dealt with during a child's development. However, many adults are yet to overcome other feelings of embarrassment or discomfort when dumping their daily ritual into this waste disposing creation. Fart sounds, organic smells, poo slapping on the bowl - all common occurrences that one would wish to avoid. When shitting in a bathroom that is within the vicinity of other human beings, just 'letting it rip' is usually not an option. Instead, some opt to clench and release in calculated intervals in a not so subtle attempt to avoid suspicion.
It should not all be gloom and doom when nature calls during a friend's illustrious dinner event. Mankind has invented many systems for a sense of hygiene and civility. Toilet paper. One must never underestimate the use of toilet paper. Apart from the obvious wiping techniques (it is fundamental that you do not 'scrunch'), toilet paper also acts as a barrier between the water level and what is below. Many established scientists would say, according to elementary physics, that back splash is inevitable when heavy poo plummets like an atomic bomb towards the water. To avoid this aquatic warzone, just place a few sheets of paper onto the water surface. Of course, there is a fine balance between creating a thin velocity-absorbing layer and creating an impervious wall. The latter will allow faeces to sit nicely above the water. It is a bit of a technique, but with some practice, not a difficult one feat to achieve. What about when it is just ‘too big’? It sits comfortably, slanted on the white toilet surface as if it were resting after a hard day at work. You flush, and flush, and it just won't flush. Try flushing the massive being down another three times. If that does not work, use whatever urine you have stored as a projectile stream for forceful dispersion. Women may have trouble with this but remember; the toilet world does not have to be a man's world. Finally, the scrubber is always available. Just be sure to wash up after you mash and grind to a suitable slush.
Spread these techniques to your friends. Take pictures of your result. Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr. You have many social media outlets at your disposal. Do not be fooled into thinking that this subject must be taboo. Defecation is one of the most shared, natural and beautiful things we as human beings all must do. Don’t deny the world of shit. For too long are people deprived of knowing the size of their friend's brown one after 'KFC Fridays'.
Now you are equipped with some essential skills. Was it that sick and uncomfortable to read about defecation tactics? No.
An article published on gay.net asked the question? “Will African-Americans Push LGBT Equality Across the Finish Line?”
The answer is a big, bold, NO!
President Obama has the task of cleaning up the mess left by President Bush who ruined our great nation and leaving it in shambles. Unemployment was at an all-time high, banks were going bankrupt, the economy was shot to s**t!, the Stock Market crashed with countless number of people losing everything they had, the auto industry was crashing at a rapid speed, and an Anti-Obama campaign was launched by the New York Times Magazine with Newt Genrich as their poster Bigot!
It became socially acceptable to disrespect the new President elect in public, print, radio, with Whites who have a problem with a Black man in the White House with members of the White LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) community joining this new force of racism.
The first 100 days of serving in office are the hardest and critical times for a new President. The White LGBT community began ranting and raving about President Obama ignoring their needs. They cried betrayal and started demanding that needs be addressed or else! Threatening and bullying President Obama didn’t fare well at all in the Black community.
Looking back at things, these same White members of the LGBT community didn’t threaten or bully President Bush about ignoring their needs and who didn’t address them at all. He didn’t believe in Homosexuality because he thought that it was wrong. The White LGBT members didn’t bully or threaten President Clinton to change “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell!” that was more harm than good. Using Black logic, the only reason that the LGBT community didn’t act out against these former Presidents’ is because they were White.
President Obama invited the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) to dinner in the White House where President Obama said; "Do not doubt the direction we are heading and the destination we will reach."
Afterwards he told them that the first thing that he would be ending was “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and all of the other plans that he had laid out for the LGBT community. I was happy and elated when I read about this but, the further I read, the more pissed I became about it. HRC President, Joe Solmonese and Fred Sainz, HRC’s vice president was quick to get in front of the press to say that they were disappointed with the meeting because Obama didn’t give them a timeline. This was a smart move by President Obama, not getting pushed into a corner for an answer that was soon! Soon wasn’t good enough for them.
I lost all respect for HRC who weren’t acting very humane towards a Black man who is willing to meet with them and make things right. They were un-grateful, selfish, self-centered, insensitive, arrogant, and rude towards the President. Why where they acting this way towards a person who was offering them help that they never got before from any the other Presidents? They tried to banger their way with him and it didn’t work.
President Bush slashed all of HRC’s funding and banned them from the White House and from all White House functions. The Black community was quick to notice that Joe Solmonese and Fred Sainz didn’t address the President by his proper name which is Mr. President or President Obama. So what’s behind this nasty ass behavior and attitude towards President Obama? They’re racists! The HRC should be staffed with all members from all races not a White majority.
Adding insult to injury, the next day the LGBT community staged an Equality March to protest President Obama ignoring their needs and concerns. This was right after President Obama went all out the night before to tell the so-called LGBT leaders and advocates his plans to make their community a better one.
Equality means…equality for all! Not some! When pictures from this farce of a march appeared in print and on the air on the nightly news there wasn’t one Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, skinned face in the crowd. There were all white faces protesting against a Black President. These marchers wanted gay rights for their all White world excluding all other races.
A great number of them didn’t vote for President Obama they voted for the Republican Party. Shame! If these people voted for Obama and were faithful supporters they would have been waiting it out patiently like everyone else including myself, a gay advocate and AIDS activist. To me this was a direct insult and slap in the face by racism from White LGBT peers.
"He repeated his promises that he's made to us before, but he did not indicate when he would accomplish these goals and we've been waiting for a while now," said Jones, national co-chair of major gay-rights.
This is an F.Y.I. to Jones and the thousands who protested against the President. President Obama is the only President to address and make promises to the LGBT community. Regan loathed the LGBT community and lashed out at your LGBT community every chance he got. Ronald Regan also said "them homo's deserved AIDS” in 1984. Why wasn’t a major march done then?
President Clinton enacted the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” which was a farce that started a witch-hunt in the United States Services. The Advocates didn’t boycott, protest, or foam at the mouths. They said that; “Something is better than nothing.”
I replied; “I rather have the nothing!”
President Bush hated the LGBT community with a passion and banned the HRC from the White House and slashed all of their funding. Did they protest? Did they march in front of the White House? No! They did nothing! Had they marched, Bush probably would have shot at their butts.
To the Black community this looked like an attack on their President by the LGBT who all happened to be Caucasian.This looked like an Anti-Obama protest!
As far as the Black community is concerned Whites have their rights and were always able to do the things that Blacks weren’t allowed to do. Polling data has historically suggested that blacks are the least supportive of LGBT equality. The Blacks see gay rights as special rights for freaky rights. They’ve seen photos from gay parade with topless lesbians, bare ass leather men in harness, dog collars, and chaps, and outlandish drag queens on floats galore and in the crowds. To the Blacks, this looks like a Mari-Gras from hell complete with beads!
The Anti-Obama White LGBT community is causing racial tension and is pissing off the Black community royally. Blacks are forgiving, but they don’t forget. This is why seventy-five percent of Blacks voted against Prop eight in California because the Whites of the LGBT protested against their President because he didn’t hurry up and meet their demands. This is also the reason why Amendment One won in the polls. The White majority of North Carolina saw this through along with the majority of Blacks who voted it in as well.
A good number of the Whites brought racist beliefs and bigotry with them when they came out of the closet. Some Whites overcame their prejudice and stop seeing things in Black and White except for the love of their colorful gay and lesbian family.
Black gay and lesbians aren’t made welcome at most gay events and are still refused entry into the fab bars of the moment. This is why they don’t go to the Gay Pride Parades. The outstretched hand of friendship and fellowship is slapped away with cold stares and dirty looks.
My advice to my Black gay brothers and lesbian sisters is to go to gay social groups so you can do social things with your peers. Join gay organizations and volunteer your services to help an organization which is what I did over 30 years ago when I came out.
The White LGBT has to get their act together and start recruiting and welcoming Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and everyone else into their fold so they can be diverse. At the rate they’re going in the race for equality they’re going to be tripped when they get to the finish line.
Just a horrid week in general.
Got called a slutty distracting whore at work, due to my super short shorts. Lost my freaking phone that has information.... I don't even want to get in on what I have on there.
I honestly don't know what's next. If I'm lucky they'll find the person who stole my phone, most likely won't.
Oh, my niece decided to puke all over my new Marc Jacobs sweater. Lovely, right?
Give me triple shot of Vodka. NOW!
R.I.P Ryan's iPhone
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How do you live life like there’s no tomorrow?
After watching the movie A Single Man yesterday, I had one question on my mind: How do you live like there’s no tomorrow? No matter what I thought, it didn't seem like the right answer. Or maybe it was right but only to a certain extent.
Like in this case: One day, you want to call your mom or a friend. But later you say, “Well, I’ll just call tomorrow.” If you want to live your life by this saying, then the correct thing to do would be to call your mom or friend that very day if not the minute you want to do it. Because something could happen that night, or even in the next few hours, which leaves the person you wanted to call dead. And for the rest of your life, you’d be regretting not calling them earlier or wondering how that last conversation would have went.
But in a different case, the answer isn’t so simple.
What about a job you want to do when you get older?
Places you want to see?
Wishes you have for when you become an adult can’t fit into a 24-hour day.
What about goals?
Everyone tells you, you should have goals for the future. Something that keeps you going.
How can you have wishes and plans to accomplish goals in the future, when you’re trying to live as though tomorrow, you’ll be dead?
But then, this also leads to the subject of fear….
In the movie, the main character is an English Teacher. One day, in class, he talks to them about fear. Fear of growing old alone, getting killed, and death.
If you have a constant fear that there might not be a tomorrow, how do you live today? All your mind can think about is what’s going to happen. Will your house burn down while you’re sleeping? Will someone run a red light? Will the roads be really slick? Fear can keep you from living your life and as the saying goes; you can’t really die if you’ve never really lived.
I've heard people say you shouldn’t fear death because then how can you live.
I've also heard to live like there’s no tomorrow because tomorrow is never promised.
I guess the only way not to fear death is to accept it
I guess the only way to live for today is to
Say what you want to say
Do what you want to do
Don’t look back at the past
And don’t focus on the future.
It’s okay to have goals and things you want to do when you get older, but don’t get so caught up on the future that you forget what you have right now.
You have today.
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I have been thinking about writing professionally for years now but have never managed to go through with it. Much of my trouble stems from me being a rather random thinker in addition to being unfocused and lazy. When thinking about things in greater depth, I think the problem lies deeper in my psyche. I know I am capable of writing because this is flowing easily out of my mind, through keys on a keyboard, onto the virtual page on my laptop’s screen.
Throughout my life I have been quite capable in expressing myself both verbally and through writing. My experiences at high school and university attest to this fact. Only when I was a small child in The Netherlands did I struggle with writing- the physical act of putting pen to paper and creating something legible- until I was challenged by my teacher in year 4. He ‘took no prisoners’ and insisted on me producing better quality work, daubing messages of disappointment all over my untidy and messy written work: “Sloppy” appearing on nearly every page in my various notebooks.
I soon learnt to put more effort in right from the start, and even though it required more thought and forbearance, it allowed me to actually go out for recess. When I moved to a new country (Canada) and new school, I found myself blossoming as a student and managed to produce such good quality work in grades 7 and 8 that I ended up with the General Proficiency Award at graduation. My diligence in the presentation and content of written work continued through high school and university. I have had some work published in university community publications too. Apart from teacher’s appraisals and input, never have I received harsh negative feedback on my writing.
When I launched into my career as high school English teacher, I knew I was capable of writing and assessing the quality of others’ writing too. Incidentally, the children’s picture book I wrote for my Teacher’s College English module was enthusiastically praised by my professor who said it was outstanding. Then why did I go on putting my own writing career on hold? Why am I still struggling and procrastinating? When I dig deeper, I think it all has a great deal to do with my self confidence and its manifestation in the anxiety I experience when it comes to producing written work.
What am I scared of when it comes to my writing? As my personal life coach I have been working with over the past few months put it to me (paraphrasing) “Who decides if the writing you produce is good quality?” She also suggested I pose myself the following question: “What would it take for me to set my own benchmark and not to require external validation?”
Writing this blog in a public forum is my first step to acknowledging that anxiety around my writing is a concern I have. I think the only option I have is, using Susan Jeffers’ words “to feel the fear and do it anyway.” Only by putting myself and my work ‘out there’ can I move forward and progress. Every writer has to deal with criticism and rejection along the way- I accept that- and who knows, maybe the worst critic is the one I’ve always feared most: the inner one that exists deep within me!
Ron (Ronyx), the owner and writer behind themustardjar.com, has just launched his twenty-sixth story, Birds Don’t Sing Before a Storm.
Focusing on sixteen-year-old Casey Barrett, a troublesome teen who’s sent away to live with his estranged father following several incidents at school, Birds Don’t Sing Before a Storm is sure to entertain everyone from newcomers to die hard fans.
Ron’s latest story comes at the perfect time too, with the themustardjar.com celebrating its seventh birthday.
I’ve spent the past couple of weeks getting to know Ron and have learned that not only is he a dedicated writer within the gay, young-adult genre, he also takes this role very seriously.
Seven years and twenty-six stories later, it’s time to take a closer look into the world of Ronyx.
Kai: One thing that you’ve made clear on your About Me page and during our emails is what writing means to you and why continue to do it. You’ve said that you try to help young, vulnerable people realise that they have a place in the world. Looking back over all your stories, do you feel that you’ve accomplished that goal?
Ron: One word in this question popped out at me, and that was the word vulnerable. I write for young, gay readers. Even though many of my characters appear vulnerable, they all discover an inner strength that helps them overcome difficult obstacles. I believe that each of us possess that inner strength. Sometimes it is buried so deep, it is hard to discover. So that is what I try to accomplish through my stories. I want young readers to understand that no matter what life challenge he or she may face, a better tomorrow is attainable. A central theme to all my stories is that no matter how dark the storm, a rainbow always appears at the end. When I first started writing, I felt that if I made a difference in just one young person’s life, then I would have accomplished my goal. I have received numerous emails from young readers who said they have found inspiration and hope through my stories. And it is not just young readers. I have heard from hundreds of men and women who have been inspired by my stories. So yes, I've accomplished my goal and so much more. Writing has enriched my life more than I ever imagined.
Kai: It’s great to learn that you’ve heard back from your audience, letting you know how your work has touched them. Reader feedback is another topic that’s important to you, as you note that it’s the only form of payment you receive from writing. Have you received any notable feedback that stood out to you?
Ron: I don’t think readers realize just how important it is for an online writer to receive feedback from them. A published author can gauge their success by how many books they sell and the literary reviews of their work. The only way an online author knows if their work is being read and enjoyed is if they hear directly from his or her readers. It is extremely frustrating to spend so much time writing something that we hope readers will enjoy, and then receive nothing in return. I've communicated with several exceptional writers who suddenly stopped writing one day because they felt their work was not being appreciated. I have written rants in the past at TMJ because I was pouring hours into a story, and then have only a few respond. I cannot understand why someone would enjoy a story and not feel compelled to share that experience with the writer. I am more fortunate than most writers because I maintain my own site, and I know that hundreds are returning week after week. That tells me that they are enjoying the story. However, many writers who are hosted by other sites do not have that opportunity. I have had readers chastise me and say that I write because I have this inner need for acceptance, and that I shouldn't expect anything in return. That is utter bullshit. I write because I enjoy writing for others, and particularly gay teens. If I didn't feel I was positively affecting the lives of others, then I would shut down TMJ tomorrow. I’m on a rant again, but I want readers to understand that writers want and expect feedback from readers to reinforce that what they are doing is appreciated. Just a simple, “Thanks” from time to time goes a long way.
As for notable feedback, I’ve heard from many young readers who have told me they came out to their friends and families because reading my stories gave them the confidence to do so. The story, A Delicate Situation, solicited so many positive comments from readers who were deeply touched by Dorian's speech. I’ve also heard from two school counselors who said they have recommended my stories for their gay students to read. That is awesome!
Kai: Wow! Talk about a compliment!
Another thing you’ve mentioned in quite a bit of detail is why you started writing. In particular, you state that it stemmed from a lack of plot-focused stories. Are you pleased with the work you’ve created?
Ron: I’m very pleased with what I’ve written. Each story contains a part of me, a personal life experience. When I’m writing a story, I have a message I want to relate. Sometimes it may not be immediately recognizable to the reader. But when I’ve finished, and readers write and tell me that they could identify with certain elements of the story, then I know I was successful. I feel rewarded when I know they ‘got it.’
Kai: There are many authors who can’t stand their earlier works, so it’s refreshing to hear that you continue to regard them with pride. That said, is there anything you wish you’d have done differently? Perhaps an aspect of your writing voice that you wish you found earlier?
Ron: I don’t regret writing, Writing for Joe, but I don't consider it an especially a good story. I wanted to see if I could write a crime story, and I quickly found out it is not a genre I am comfortable writing. After that, I returned to writing gay teen romance. That is my comfort zone, and the genre I feel most adept writing.
Kai: You also state that you’ve always had an interest in writing, but was unsettled about the prospect of starting a story yourself. Did you ever attempt to write fiction before you began Apple of Her Eye?
Ron: Apple of Her Eye was my first attempt at fiction. I always had this little person inside me who wanted to write, but he wasn’t confident enough to try. One night I was sitting at my computer, and I had one of those ‘f##k it’ moments. I figured, what did I have to lose? So I wrote the first chapter to Apple, and using a pseudonym, I held my breath and posted the first chapter on Nifty. Even if no one read it, at least I was satisfied that I’d finally done what I wanted to do for so many years. I had finally taken that big first step. Fortunately for me, people actually enjoyed what I wrote. I couldn’t contain my happiness when I awoke the next morning and I had received several emails telling me to hurry and post another chapter. And as they say, the rest is history. So I encourage anyone who has dreams of doing something, to have your ‘f##k it’ moment and just go for it. You may not be as successful as I have been, but at least you will have achieved the satisfaction of knowing you made the attempt.
Kai: It must’ve been quite a moment for you to open up your mails and see that people were asking for more! I think we should all be thankful to those original readers who kept you going in the early days!
While you share your work online with a great number of readers, I’m curious if you share your writing with friends and family too? If so, what was the response?
Ron: All my friends know I write, but interestingly, very few bother to read my stories. I would feel insulted, but I know that I write stories that appeal to a limited audience. Another interesting fact is that several friends who have enjoyed my stories are mothers who enjoy reading romantic literature. Two have older sons who are gay, and they say that reading my stories has helped them to better understand what problems their sons encountered as they were growing up.
Kai: You’ve said that instead of planning out every aspect of your stories, you simply write what comes to you. I come from the opposite angle and really like to plan things out before I begin, so I’m very curious about how you do it, and more importantly, how you’re able to make it work.
Ron: When I begin a story, I generally have a point A, the beginning, and point C, the ending, formulated in my mind. I start with a blank screen and start writing with a goal, but generally no clear path of where I’m going. It sounds nearly impossible, but for me it works for me. Point C is to me the most important part of the story. It often concludes the message I am trying to convey. Readers often complain because they think I end a story too soon. However, it always ends exactly like I intend it to end. The middle, point B, is written paragraph by paragraph, and sometimes sentence by sentence. I focus on the ending, but the main characters write the story and take it to that end. Sometimes it takes twenty five chapters to reach that goal, other times it may take only twelve. Minor characters often pop into a story, and they sometimes become major personalities, especially friends of the main character. They give direction and help lead the main character toward the goal I have in mind. I usually have about a page of notes. I often confuse, or forget the names of characters, so I jot them down as they appear in the story so I can go back and easily find them again, if necessary. I know that most writers have extensive outlines and notes before they pen the first word to their story. However, I like to be spontaneous when I write. I’d probably stray so far from my original outline that it would frustrate me. So I go with the flow, and let the story go in whatever direction it decides to take, always keeping in mind the goal I have set for the story.
Kai: Given the number of stories you’ve been able to push out over the years, this approach seems to work well for you. Could you tell me how you came to write Scott’s Story? Did you always plan to write a sequel to Mark’s Revenge, or did you decide later?
Ron: When I write a story, I intend for it to have a happy conclusion. In Mark’s Revenge, Mark and Bobby did have their happy ending. However, I felt guilty because of the pain they inflicted on Scott in order to achieve it. Therefore, I went about writing Scott’s Story, telling the story from Scott’s perspective. I wanted him to have his happy ending. He meets Devin, ironically a small, frail boy like Mark and Bobby, and he discovers love and understanding.
Kai: Naming your protagonist ‘Woody’ in your story It’s Not Easy Being a Tree was quite a clever idea. Are character names are important to you?
Ron: I probably spend more time giving my characters names than I do planning the story. I want names that fit the characters, particularly the main characters. I have to ‘see’ the character, and giving him or her a proper name is important. I’m also careful not to reuse names, especially main characters. And believe me, after writing so many stories, and having hundreds of characters, it’s not an easy task. I also try not to use the names of close friends because I don't want to envision them as I write a story.
Kai: I could imagine that it must be quite tricky to come up with new names, especially ones that ‘fit’ for a set character. Does the extra time you spend on characters expand to other things, such as creating backstories, or do you fill in the gaps as you go along?
Ron: As I’ve mentioned earlier, very little in my stories is ever planned. When a character appears, he or she creates their own story as it relates to the main character.
Kai: I’ve spoken to several different writers and each of them have their own muses. Some like to do something physical to get the creative juices flowing, while others may listen to music. Do you do anything to help aid in the creative process?
Ron: Quite simply, no. I tend to write in spurts, when the mood strikes me. I may sit down and write for hours, and then not write again for a week. Generally, however, I usually write two or three pages and stop. It normally takes me a total of four or five hours to complete a chapter. I find I don’t burn out as fast if I write when I want, and not feel pressured to write. I also will not begin posting a new story to TMJ until I have written at least seven or eight chapters. That way, if I do decided to take a short break, I can without making my readers wait for the next installment.
Kai: On the topic of next instalments, how's your new story, Birds Don’t Sing Before a Storm coming along? Any teasers you can share?
Ron: Sorry, but nope! My regular readers know that I never tell what is going to happen, no matter how much they beg and plead. As for the story, it is going well. An endearing character has appeared whose personality I am having fun developing. Like most of my stories at this point, I have absolutely no idea where it may lead. That is the challenge, and it is sometimes like working a jigsaw puzzle and making all the pieces fit.
Kai: I’d like to ask you about some of the recurring themes that appear in your stories and your thoughts on them. Firstly, adults. Most, if not all of your stories feature several strong adult characters, particularly men. Are these strong willed adult characters something you see as instrumental in stories of this genre?
Ron: I try to provide positive role models in my stories. A few adult characters have been less than stellar, but for the most part I want young people to understand that they can trust adults, in particular their parents, family members and teachers. Life can sometimes be difficult, and young people need to be able to trust someone who can give them direction.
Kai: Religion isn’t something you see a lot in the genre, but it’s mentioned in some of your stories in varying degrees. It’s Not Easy Being a Tree is a notable example that stands out to me where religion, or at least religious figures, feature throughout and are portrayed in a positive light when pertaining to gay matters. Is this something that’s important to you?
Ron: Actually, no. I’m not a religious person. However, that shouldn't blind me from the fact that many people are. If a person finds comfort through their religious faith, then that is their personal decision. I also think that most Protestant clergy are tolerant toward gays, lesbians and transgendered people. Unfortunately, however, some do not follow the teachings of Jesus when he said, “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”
Kai: Your stories also touch on many topical issues ranging from class differences, bullying, and to prostitution. What is it that attracts you to write stories with such complex themes?
Ron: These may be complex themes; but unfortunately, they are reality for some young people. One thing I attempt to do through my stories, is show young people how they can survive a situation that they may see as impossible to overcome. I’ve taken a few of my characters to the abyss of hell, and then slowly brought them back and gave them a reason to live again. “It Gets Better” is a mantra that everyone should use when facing a dark period in their life. I am also in an interracial relationship. It has given me a view of life through a different lens. I always attempt to promote diversity and tolerance in my writings.
On the genre:
Kai: Touching on what you just mentioned, I’d like to talk about the state of the gay, young-adult genre and gauge some of your thoughts, starting with diversity. Taking Off the Mask was the first story I read that featured a black character where their ethnicity wasn’t central to the plot. Many of your stories feature characters of different ethnicities, yet it continues to remain a rarity in the genre. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Ron: I really don’t understand why more diverse characters don’t appear in gay literature. I’m assuming that most gay men have friends, like I do, from all walks of life and various backgrounds. I have many straight, bisexual and lesbian friends. They come in all sizes, shapes and colors. So if writing is to be realistic, then they should appear in gay literature. If we want diversity, then our literature should represent that.
Kai: Another area in the genre I want to bring up is the difficulties of keeping a story modern and fresh in the ever-changing world that we live in. The extended use of the internet in It’s Not Easy Being a Tree is a good example of this. Do you see it as a challenge to keep things relevant for younger and newer readers?
Ron: After twenty full-length stories, numerous short stories and a two-act play, it is definitely a challenge to write something that is fresh. I rarely read stories by other authors at other sites because if I did, then it might deter me from writing something because I would feel I’m infringing upon someone else’s work. So with each story I try to present a new and different situation that a gay teen might have to confront. I have drawn from my own experiences, and each story contains a part of me or someone I have known.
Kai: With the two recent Supreme Court rulings on Prop 8 and DOMA, along with more celebrities coming out, more people coming out, the attitudes of the American public accepting gay people a bit more, do you think that together, in the foreseeable future, they’ll change the genre of gay writing?
Ron: I certainly hope so. Fiction is recorded history. One can go back and read the classics to see how life was at a particular time. In the future, a gay teen might happen upon a story I wrote and understand the hardships gay teens in American had to endure at the beginning of the 21st century. To them, it would be like reading about Susan B. Anthony and understanding the struggle for women’s suffrage. The gay movement began with Stonewall, and it will only end when each gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender person can live in a world free of hatred, misunderstanding and intolerance. Personally for me, acceptance will not come until that day when I can put a ring on Tony’s finger, kiss him and be given the full rights of marriage equality.
Kai: Thanks to the recent equal marriage milestones that have been achieved worldwide, hopefully it’ll be a reality for you very soon too.
As a final question: In light of the above and recent changes in public opinion, what would be your advice to a young LGBT person as far as coming out, being more open, and generally accepting themselves for who they are?
Ron: My advice would be to always follow your heart and trust your family and friends. Even though it is easier for young people today to come out, keep in mind the consequences. We still live in a society where preachers stand on the pulpits on Sunday and condemn homosexuality as a sin. Even members of our government, people elected to represent ALL the people, attempt to enact legislation that denies us equal rights. I have found that the majority of people are tolerant and accepting. Never be ashamed of who you are. Your sexuality is a part of you, as much as the color of your skin, hair or eyes. The choice is up to you whether or not you decide someday to share that with those you love and trust. Live your life in a way that makes YOU happy. For those of you who decide to make the decision to come out, there are many websites who can offer you valuable information in doing so. Visit the links page at The Mustard Jar, or visit other websites like Gay Authors, Awesome Dude and Codey’s World. There you will find friends you can trust who will help you. And ALWAYS remember to play safe.
Kai: Fantastic advice!
Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to this interview, Ron. It’s been a very informative experience!
Ron’s stories can be found at: themustardjar.com
6 years ago, I saw the most beautiful boy ever
who asked me to be his first
but never once said I love you.
Instead, he would tell me
that I couldn't put my hands on my hips
because it made me look like a girl.
My friends saw my tears and I told them
that I deserved him.
4 years ago, I kissed a boy
who tasted like cigarettes and told me
that he would always come save me
even though he couldn't save himself.
My friends watched from a distance
and shook their heads in silence.
2 years ago, there was a boy
who suffocated me and told me
that it was his way or no way,
I'm only doing this because I care about you.
I got drunk and told my friends about him
and pretended I was happy.
Since then, I wanted no one at all
but when he walked into my life
I didn't expect to fall but...
he fought hard to keep all my demons away:
"I love you."
Nobody has ever said that to me.
"You love me?" I asked, leaning towards him.
"Please say it again," I said. I let him wrap his arms around me.
"I love you," he repeated.
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soooo... today... or should i start with yesterday.
Today my best friend had an anxiety attack, but it not just that. Those are normal.
She went missing for 3 hours.
I don't know what bought it on how to solve it.
Also Why the fuck i'm trying to sort her out when my own mind is a living wasp nest.
I'm worried for her, yeah.
But i'm panicing, you know, tbh.. I no longer want anything to do with my family.
I hate them and every word they say...
Its irrational but I do.
What do I want to do.
Yeah I want to be a director...
But more than anything I want to start over.
With no one i know now,
No family no friends.
I want to go back to the person I was before...
The one who didn't have feelings.
The one who didn't need friends.
The one who just doesn't care about anyone but herself. (okay that ones a lie, i've never cared about myself.)
Its.. why i'm still here.
If i cared about myself i would of left before i got hurt. I would of left when my family started insulting me like it was there right.
No one has that right.
Physical wounds heal, mental wounds can be left gaping wide, and even when healed there's no telling when the scar will hurt .
Is it wrong that I don't want to deal anymore. Is it wrong I don't want deal with this broken family thing i have going on.
Oh, mighty giant, how I worship from afar.
I see a lone, striding tsar.
But I may only gape.
Oh, fateful spectre, your visage of a love once known,
unearthing the wounds I had sewn.
How may I end this pain?
Now, squinting siren, I climb aloft to reach to you.
Now my life shall 'gin anew,
and I smile at the thought.
And as I jump come close to me you wicked, wicked boy.
I am that lovely shattered toy
you now hold within your hands.
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There's so much incredible material here on GA to enjoy, but I'm sure that most of us enjoy reading books outside of the site as well. How about sharing our favorites and maybe steer others to more great reads? Right now, for fiction, I'm reading James Patterson's Second Honeymoon. Nonfiction has me engrossed in David McCollough's John Adams. And in my spare time (hehe) I'm finishing up reading Dean Koontz's Darkfall. It's the final reread of four of his classics (Strangers, Watchers, Whispers, and Darkfall). So how about you? What's currently tripping your literary trigger? I'd espescially be interested in what you GA authors like to read. BTW, I'm on my third Nook Reader. I upgraded the first time, but literally wore out the second one! ROFL!
Although no one is exactly hanging on every word either
Working stinks during summer. It was nicer when I could hang at the beach all day and be a bum. This growing up is way over rated.
I do like my job though, the law is pretty cool even if I am just a flunky now I've been able to sit in on some cool meetings hearing about strategy and junk like that.
Been getting to hang with my buds from Loyola and work some with the young guys on the polo team. If teaching weren't such a sucky job (sorry Mr Arbour) I might consider it, but I think I'd go nuts pretty quickly. I hear all the stories from my great aunt and her husband who are teachers and don't think I could hang for long doing that. Maybe at a private school, not sure, but I think I am pretty set on the law anyways.
anyway, that is pretty much it for now.
There are many things which individuals do I do not understand.. why say something and make it public, I guess for those who really care, and then run away like a frightened child when someone asks you something about it.. To be honest, in the end, no one really cares one way or the other only the individuals involved.
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I’m never really sure what I should write about in blogs and that’s probably why I’ll create one, write an entry or two and then meander off to some other project. But I am searching for discipline when it comes to writing and I think keeping a blog will help me gain control of a functional but rampant imagination. Well, that’s the hope anyway.
Originally, I thought that my first blog should be about me but that idea sounded pretty boring. After combing the dark recesses of my brain, I came up blank; there was nothing really that stood out as absolutely needing to be said. So I decided to just wait and not push the issue because it’s not like I was required to write blog posts.
Later, while killing time over on Tumblr, I stumbled upon the perfect topic. I randomly came across this pretty interesting tumblr and the more I read, the more intrigued I became. The focus of the blog is to pinpoint the homophobia and racism that happens almost daily within the gay community and honestly, if I would have found this a couple of years ago, I never would have believed it. At that time, I lived in a relatively self-sustained gay environment. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say I could go weeks at a time and not interact with a heterosexual person. It became almost like a veil in that I could appreciate the issues affecting gays but they were pretty far removed from my everyday life. It wasn’t until I moved back home to Louisiana that I began to notice a problem.
It began with this guy I fancied. At first, I thought he was pretty cool; he liked anime and video games, he had nice hairy legs and a reasonable outlook on his future. He was a horrible speller (I'd like to think I'm not nearly pretentious enough to judge someone on poor spelling but this was… bad.) And yet, I still enjoyed hanging out with him. Until one day, in the middle of a department store, we passed by this adorable little baby gay and a friend. The baby gay was probably about 15 or 16 and clearly just becoming comfortable with who he was. And as he passes, my friend says, under his breath and in a dramatic whisper, “What a faggot.”
I stopped cold; in fact, I took no voluntary action for a few seconds while tentative bridges we'd been building began to smoke, smolder and burn. I asked him to repeat what he’d said even though by this time it was clear I’d heard him and, I’d imagine by my facial expression, was disgusted by it. He immediately changed his sneer to a grin.
But it wasn’t just an isolated event. I started noticing it everywhere. You can’t throw a pixel on a gay dating website without crashing into the words “straight-acting”. This phrase, which I find extremely asinine, seems to come pre-loaded into ‘About Me’ sections these days.
And if it isn’t that “str8-actn”, it’s “masc”, another fallacy of fantasy. The very first time I ever came across the phrase ‘masc only’ I spent a good 20 minutes trying to decide if I qualified to reply. I could change my own tires and oil but I wore rainbow jewelry. I’d moved all the furniture in my room by myself but I also had vocal accompaniment by a veritable playlist of divas and provided my own choreography. I learned two important things in that 20 minute period: 1.) I was smack dab in the middle of the scale and from then on referred to myself as a ‘tweener’. 2.) I don’t care how attractive a guy, if it takes that much thought just to say decide to say hi it’s probably not the best use of my time.
I also began to wonder why these terms became so prevalent of a distinction when it came to us dating one another. I tried to write it off as attraction, blame it on Hollywood’s conditioning and wash my hands with the subject. And that works… until you stumble upon the profiles that shun effeminate men. When it’s put all together, it looks something like “Me: str8-acting, masc. You: str8-acting, masc. No fems, flamers, fags, queens, etc.” but it reads as one horribly homophobic heterosexual male seeking another heterosexual male for homosexual acts, which makes no sense.
Now I am going to take a little spin with conjecture here and say that there is a lot of fear in these profiles. I find it hard to believe that any fully-realized homosexual can hate another gay person because the outward manifestation of their sexuality has reached and surpassed a certain threshold. I don’t believe in “too gay” but I do believe that you can spend so much time trying to blend into society that anyone who stands out can be seen as threatening.
I am not forcing anyone to be attracted to someone they just aren’t attracted to but I am saying you shouldn’t hide behind a generalization. And have a little tact. Yes, it’s the internet and anonymity means it’s possible to be absolutely awful to someone and still believe in personal virtue. But there are more than enough opponents of nearly any gay situation so why not go be awful to them? And just for the record, of all the times I have heard someone refer to themselves as “straight-acting” or “masculine", less than a handful could actually make that kite fly.
However, this particular tumblr shines a much needed (albeit militant) spotlight on this situation and takes the piss out of guys who are just too rude to care. Like my date, who actually saw nothing wrong with what he’d said. And I was even more embarrassed as I think the kid might have heard him. When he tried to use the “it’s okay because I’m a gay man” excuse, I called him on the bull. It’s never ok to make another person feel like crap, especially when no gay person is really exempt from discrimination. The more effeminate among us already take enough shit from the rest of the world; as the more easily identified, they’re the first in line to be pushed and tripped in the halls, harassed and worse… much, much worse. And now they get to be the dumping ground for homophobic homosexuals? Where’s the ‘equality’ in creating a caste within the gay community?
Ok I couldn't resist this one....
Today was Ari's birthday party (she turned 6). She is in Bump's dance class along with a boy named D (who is 6 and a half). Well D keeps saying that he is Ari's boyfriend and Ari don't correct him, however, she makes room for Bump. Like today, D picked a spot that had two seats left for him and Ari to sit to have their hot dogs and mac-n-cheese, but Ari made her daddy move another chair over so Bump could sit with them too.
Well, Ari has a big brother who is about DC's age. The kids were all sitting in the living room on the floor and Ari was opening presents. She was taking her time and her brother threatened to hit her if she didn't hurry up. D turned and looked at him, but Bump got up and punched him in the thigh and told him never to threaten Ari again or he would have to deal with him -- and you don't hit girls. Then he stood there and stared him down like he would DC.
I did my best not to laugh. Everyone else was shocked, including Ari's brother who just nodded, after which his girlfriend chided him for picking on the little kids. When Ari was done and the kids had gone outside, Ari's grandma came over to me and said, "Well we know who thinks he is Ari's boyfriend, but now we know who thinks he is her protector."
She patted my knee and said. "I think I would prefer the protector, and so will she, eventually."
I said, "They're six."
Then she laughed. "For now," she said. Then got up and walked out of the room.
WTF? Bump likes Ari, but he also likes D..... how do I explain THAT one to her grandma?
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Disclaimer: this blog, while aiming to be both constructive and amusing to authors, does not intend to offend anyone. If however you are offended, please accept my apology in advance.
If, by some strange miracle or pure coincidence we managed to gather every GA author that ever posted on this site, cramp them inside one tiny room and ask them to write a guide to excellent writing, it would frankly take until the end of time. Authors, masters of their own craft, materials and thought processes, will disagree on drafting stages, characterisation, POVs, plotting, beginnings, endings, sex scenes, and just about anything they can disagree on. All the while we sat and drummed our pens on the side, eager to write down anything of use, waiting for definitive answers like idiots.
So now if we were to flood this cosy little room of authors with water and gas, we will perhaps learn that there IS no one single writing guide to excellent writing, that it never existed and many styles of writing are just as viable and effective. Perhaps, at their own imminent deaths, these authors would at last conform and agree on how NOT to write a story. There would be no consensus on how to write a good story, but how to make a story bad – or horrible, depending on the severity of its transgressions against storytelling. And finally, we will squeeze and milk something from these authors that will actually be of use.
Below is a horrible story - that I wrote, in fact, especially for this occasion. As for why it is horrible, that is up for discussion. Read with a critical eye. If you find yourself performing one or more of these transgressions below, you are probably losing a few potential readers on this site. Nobody wants that. Nope.
Story Title: I Hate My Life
Hi. My name is William Blake. I am five foot five. I am thirteen years old. I have black hair, brown eyes, and a kinky beard. I live in England and I have a loving family: a brother, a sister, and my father and mother. By the way, they are called Eric, Marlene, John and Mary. My brother is a little taller than me, and has muscular arms and legs, with hair. My sister has blond hair and blue eyes. My father is very tall and handsome, his lips very attractive. My mother though, is a vindictive woman with nothing on her mind but revenge on her sister, my aunt, who stole her boyfriend when she was 13. So this is my story, my life.
I hate my life. Coming to think about it, it is truly horrible and the worst kind of life anyone can have on this Earth. My boyfriend, Jason, is apparently a little stupid and a bit of a dweeb. He READS. I mean, who READS these days? I hate people who’d rather read than spend time with me. Ain’t nobody got time for stupid stories. I absolutely hate him for that. And I also remembered that he bought me a CD of Lady Gaga for my birthday – he actually forgot that my favourite artist was Coldplay! I don’t care that he has school and work and a bunch of real life issues with his father, but forgetting is totally unacceptable. He said he loves me very much and I mean everything to him, that I am the only person he’s got left on this world but that is clearly a lie and I hate boyfriends who lie. Hence, I hate my life.
Once, he asked me to have sex with him. He was kind of shy about it and he made it look like he was vulnerable – but no way! Why would I have sex with someone who got me on my birthday something I totally didn’t want? I hate my boyfriend, I hate my life, and, as I conclude this chapter, I imagine how everything would be so much better, had Jason vanished from my life and disappeared for good.
Time to find a new boyfriend, one that actually cares.
END of Chapter 1
Pls i need ideas for C2
Yuck. What have I done wrong there? Why is no one reading my story? Comment and tell me all about it below.
A few of you know that about 7 months ago, I lost my job.
About two years ago, and after what had felt like a lifetime of international assignments and moving from one city and/or country to the next, I'd refused yet another foreign assignment and had asked to be given a home-based position, although I was still willing to travel extensively. My company was accommodating. The economy, unfortunately, was not, and in September 2012 I was let go, with 15 days' notice, but a fairly handsome severance package.
It's been a weird time.
Throughout October and November, I was actually pretty positive about the whole jobless thing. I was certain I'd find something quickly. I studied and got myself professionally re-certified in Greece. I spent more time at the gym. I finally managed to convince Teddy that I still didn't regret the decision to refuse the foreign assignment when it had been offered, that finally living together after 15 long years of snatched weekends and vacations was worth any temporary joblessness.
And then, as I saw ad after ad that excluded me due to age (yes, it's illegal but not enforced in Greece), as I received no response or negative responses to my the few ads that I did qualify for, as days and months went by with no change, I kind of lost myself...
Who was I, if not the guy, who got up every morning, put on his suit and tie, and went either to the office or to catch a flight? Who dealt with problems and crises in a calm and confident manner, often with a sense of humor? Who mentored younger colleagues and, despite being fairly introverted, enjoyed trying local specialties and beer or wine with colleagues in Prague and Santiago, Sao Paulo and Kiev?
As the job drought continued, I also lost interest in doing stuff I'd enjoyed. I stopped enjoying writing and then stopped writing. Although still ostensibly training for my triathlons, I reduced time and effort down to when I was being kicked in the butt by my trainers. I started a couple of projects (sort through my music, sort & back up my photos) and completed none. All these pastimes were supposed to be hobbies, dammit, not the reason I got up in the morning!
I blamed those it was safe to blame: my ex-bosses, the political system in Greece, the troika, myself. I tried hard not to blame Teddy - or rather Teddy's parents, who keep him tied to Greece - and God knows he blamed himself enough for what he saw as his part in my decision to try and return home. I tried not to be depressed, and even harder not to show it, but he knew. Some days it must have been awfully hard for him to come back from the office to my long face.
Slowly, I started setting things up to run my own consulting business, but I was pretty half-hearted about it. I'm not an entrepreneur or a guy who likes working alone. I hate selling myself. I love solving problems, taking something complicated and making it easy, being trusted with finding the way to a desired destination or objective. Besides, the messages coming from friends and the market were not optimistic. Experienced consultants were losing jobs and clients, even as every out-of-work higher level manager was also dubbing himself an expert in something. Too much supply, zero demand.
And then, one Friday morning my phone rang and one of my old colleagues asked me if I'd be willing to accept a 6-month temporary assignment with my old company. The offer isn't ideal:
- The money is less than half my base pay before bonuses, though still good by Greek standards (and certainly better than zero).
- No title, and I'll be reporting to someone, who only two years ago was my direct report and up to 6 months ago my peer, in a company where hierarchy, titles and "face" counts for a lot.
- There's no guarantee it will turn into something permanent, though there's a chance of it.
After a first moment of relief, I was tempted to tell them to take their offer and shove it. Teddy agreed, though he suggested I couch my refusal in more diplomatic terms.
My sister, as always, put things into perspective, and pointed out that given that the actual assignment involves activities I enjoy (mainly process design and training) and that a successful outcome could lead to a good reference for my future consulting business, if I decide to go that way, I'd be an idiot to let my pride get in the way of accepting an offer that, from any other company, I'd have accepted in a second.
And so, I tried on my suits (a bit large in the waist, given all the gym time, but I'm sure they'll fit just fine in a couple of weeks ), rearranged my gym times, and tomorrow it's back to work for me. And I'm already feeling the urge to start writing again.
- The money is less than half my base pay before bonuses, though still good by Greek standards (and certainly better than zero).
I was full of anger as I was about to sit down and once again write another blog bitching about how upset I was over something that was said or how someone acted or did not act. However, it dawned on me that no one is probably going to read this and it would be a waste of my time. The thing that does upset and I don't have a problem talking about it, if you are going to have a system or a way of solving problems.. then the least someone could do is follow through on their part of the deal and not brush it under the carpet. So in this way, a person doesn't have to wait a long extended period of time as well as send several messages. I wonder if the thought process is to wait and not answer in hopes that the problem would go way. All I can say is that it wont. What i have just written will no doubt go unseen by many. and this is fine...I could care less, at least i have gotten it off my chest. i am beginning to finally see, through the help of a good friend, that we know how people act and we can not get upset over this and expect them to act in a certain way...We have to turn it around from a negative into a positive.
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Yeah, so life has changed drastically since Trebs and I took on responsibility for raising my niece and nephew. If anyone had told me four years ago I'd calmly sit in a Doctor's office talking about my niece's menstrual periods and similar topics all while reminding my 14 year old baseball player that 1) No, he does not want to be my son-in-law no matter if it's Tyler OR Kaliann he marries and 2) get into a texting battle with the idiot mother of a good kid whose enjoyment of baseball she is about to ruin - I'd have called you crazy.
But that was at least part of my morning. Then we get to the pharmacy and the pharmacist rejects the prescriptions because the doc wrote 10/14/00 as the date for the prescription and since it's a heavily controlled substance (Adderall), it has to be all on the up and up.
Then the afternoon was out spent mowing two baseball fields since I'm the Fields guy for my little league and a rather long email exchange with a city employee about why they can't take away the two fields for renovation until the new fields they promised to build are finished. Yeah, the new fields that were supposed to be DONE by March 30th, 2013 and now being projected for opening on October 28th 2013. "Trust us, everyone will be fine" doesn't cut it anymore, boyos.
Fortunately the sanity of my afternoon/evening was the practice with the 50/70 and my team acting as assistant coaches. It went really well and I was reminded how much being out on the field and helping these kids get better at baseball helps me out as well.
It almost made the 2 1/2 hour little league board meeting afterwards worth it.
Then I got to come home and discuss with Trebs (who is doing well after his bone marrow transplant, btw) our oldest and his attempt to get into the International Baccalaureate at Inderkum High School. A few of Tyler's grades were borderline, but it looks like he is in the program! If you don't know what IB is, look it up. This is something to be proud of achieving, and something that will set him on a path to success that is as close to limitless as we can get in this world.
Kaliann isn't that far behind him as she gets ready to go into the seventh grade. She's won a major award from the school district recognizing her success through adversity. Every trimester she's on the honor roll, the principal's honor list, and whatever other list of note they are giving out. When she starts the seventh grade she'll be on the IB prep path as well with Spanish (yes they are now offering it in 7th and 8th grades).
Both of these kids were held back a year in their early education. Both of them came into our house earning marks equivalent to C's with one or two B's thrown in for points of hope. Now that C is a rare thing to be avoided at all costs and the question is how many will be B's and how many A's. Sure, they have their moments of stupidity (Really, Tyler? You miss one bubble on your test, mark all the ones after it wrong because you skipped one row, and you don't use the TWENTY MINUTES LEFT IN YOUR TEST TO GO BACK AND CHECK?). Oh yeah, some things work me up good.
Then there's the things like this kid didn't start baseball until he was ten. Now he's a starting pitcher (and not just because I'm the coach), strikes out batter after batter (unless he's going wild and walking them) and fine-tuning his control on a variety of pitches. When he comes to bat - lord help us it's either a deep drive to center/left field or he strikes out. Once in a while he'll be patient enough to let himself get walked, but that can't be counted on with him.
Where's the time for writing you ask? It doesn't exist at the moment - but instead I've got a life that gives me all new stories to tell. One day I might sit down long enough to write one of them. Until then, I'm taking my happy life and running with it...
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It is taking time but all the chapters of all five of my stories are getting posted. I am about to hit 300 chapters between the five stories, which is awesome because I thought that would ever happen when I first started writing out Jacob Finding His Way. I thought maybe thirty maybe thirty five chapters, but here we are about to hit 300 with five stories being written. Hope you all are enjoying the stories and thank you for being patient with me as far as getting the chapters up for you guys to read. They are there, but I can only post one chapter a day. Enjoy and leave those comments since that is the only payment I and my editors get for getting out these chapters for you all to read.
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You know I used to remember when Fridays meant something. They were the reward for a week hard done or they were the mini break from school. Now, they are just another day. I guess this means I am done with my mini-break from employment and ready to go back to work. Sad really, since I was sick for six of the eight weeks I was unemployed. One would think there would be some justice since this is the first time in over twenty years that I have claimed unemployment...but no that isn't my fate. I have had to go into the unemployment office twice since I started claiming to review my requirements. LMAO...others can sit and do nothing...for me if there is a chance I am going to have to be reviewed...it will happen. It might sound like I am complaining, but I'm not. It keeps me on my toes and prepared for the truth that life is what you make it.
So this week has had a few twists and turns.
So it started out with my ex having a "talk" with "O" my forth child about his decisions regarding his ftm transformation. "O" came back in the house stating that his father wondered if he was going to be telling everything they talked about and telling him that it was none of our business. This might need some elaboration.
My ex was an abused child. He has since developed strong feelings about privacy and secrets, meaning he holds on to them and keeps them because he doesn't understand that although somethings are private not everything is and those that love you can't help you if you are keeping things from them. I am the opposite. I do really stupid stuff, like accidentally using Desitin to brush my teeth instead of toothpaste, which by the way tastes like fish oil and is gross; but rather than hide it, I declare it and own it. It is freeing and allows me to move on and become a stronger better person. Not because I made the mistake, but more because it allows me the complications of being a real person.
To me, the only reason you tell someone to hide something is because you have something to hide. I didn't press "O" about what his father said to him. That is between the two of them and I would never press. But it is just another brick in the layer of "You can be married to someone and not know them" that he thinks I would question him about it. We have been divorced for thirteen years, I know I have grown and changed since then, why is he still acting the same? Is just my name a trigger for his old behavior?
What was shared to me was that my ex is still stuck in stereotypes, which is why we never worked in the first place. I am a "get it done" kind of girl. I don't mess around with blame or why, I want resolution. The other thing that just made me laugh was that he wants to take "O" hunting. Now hear me out here. My ex is a religious Jew that means that although deer meat might be kosher, it isn't if it isn't slaughtered correctly. One of his reasons for divorcing me was that I moved out of a religious community, never mind it was so he could go to school and I couldn't afford him being away to attend school and supporting a household of five kids on only my income. So even if he killed a deer, he wouldn't be able to eat it. And "O" can barely eat meat, much less cook it, how is he supposed to be able to dress a deer that he just killed, if he could kill it, which i seriously doubt. He can't even take a fish off a hook. Even writing this I am rolling my eyes up at the ridiculousness of this scenario. Now if he had said, I want to take you shooting, that would be fine. I don't have a gun issue. I feel that there needs to be precautions and regulations regarding firearms, but honestly common sense regarding guns, knives, and heavy paper is just practical. (if you have ever had a paper cut with cardboard you know what I mean.)
I could have insisted on being part of their conversation, but I declined the slight invitation my ex gave me. "O" and he need to figure out how to relate to each other, regardless of how silly I think my ex is. My only legitimate issue is the secret keeping. Child abusers and pedophiles ask secrets to be kept, parents shouldn't. I don't ever tell my kids "don't tell your father about this", I go into all situations knowing they are going to tell him everything from their perspective. That is how being a mom works.
So, next on my week was going into the office for unemployment. I have been on unemployment for two months and gone in there twice. I think this might be a record. I have known people on unemployment for a year who haven't had to report anything. But honestly, it is what I expect. I know that I am not allowed free passage in this life. I have to participate and be proactive. Fortunately, because I know this I was ready and had all my paperwork ready. It was still stressful, who knows what someone else is going to find fault with. I did get some help on my resume though.
I have also had an exponential amount of people in my house all week. "O" has a lot of friends and my house ends up being the place they like to congregate. "E" has also been home all week when she usually is only here four days out of the week. So my household of three has grown to no less than six all week long. I don't mind the people, I mind the fiances of wondering am I going to run out of toilet paper, milk, food and not be able to provide? LMAO...I have to go back to work soon. It will ease my stress a lot.
Yesterday my youngest asked "what would life be like if she lived with her father". Now remember my ex has had two of our children since our divorce and our pregnant daughter won't tell him that he is going to be a grandfather. Our son, "D" , has threatened to leave his house and never talk to him on numerous occasions, "O" and he had their first talk in four months this week and our youngest goes to his house every other week end to be passed of to her step-sister and step mom while he does stuff on the computer. How do you answer a question like that without becoming reactionary?
I took a deep breath, resolved not to talk bad about her father and told her the truth. I told her that I didn't feel private schools would give her the support she needed, that I felt she needed the social interaction she got from our house (we play board games as a family and are almost always together, her father has his computer in his bedroom and frequently goes in there to "work"). I mentioned that I have never stopped him from inviting her to do things and that he could participate with her as much as he liked, all he needed to do was let me know something was going on. And then I waited for her response. She said it was what she thought and that she had felt she made the right choice about staying with me (I didn't tell her she didn't have a choice). She is generally a happy person and I love seeing how much she has grown, she is an amazing, talented person and I don't want her to go through any heartache. If she lived with her father he wouldn't give me the same consideration of being able to talk to her when I want or see her all the time. He has put so many burdens on my son "D" that he never calls me and I haven't seen him for more than two minutes all year.
So for most of the day to day, I have downtime. I am venting my week here and moving on. I hope everyone has had a wonderful week and will have an amazing weekend. Have a safe and happy St. Patties day to those who participate.
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You may recall that my previous encounter took place with a classic American invention. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out well between us, so this time I’m trying out something from another corner of the globe. Hopefully I won’t have the same misfortune I had last week.
So what’s on the menu today?
You can call me Wafers, Viennese wafers.
Huzzah! We have wafers! Viennese wafers to be precise. And where do these marvels originate from? Greece!
While I’ve only visited a Greek restaurant once in my life, I must admit I wasn’t particularly keen on the food. It was quite some time ago, so I won’t embarrass myself by trying to recall what (or where) I ate, but I do remember it lacking anything that made it noteworthy.My aide points out that I should highlight the distinction between the restaurant and Greek food in general. Indeed, it’s entirely feasible that the restaurant itself could have been lacking in culinary expertise, not Greek food.
With that acknowledgement in mind, let’s proceed further. But wait, there’s more! First, please focus your attention to the bottom of the can. Can you see it?
Everyone else visits Greece, and so should you!
Once the shameless and super-effective enticement is out of the way, it’s time for the grand prize itself!
Padded for your pleasure.
At first glance, you may question how few wafers you actually receive per can, but I implore you to consider the needs of the dear photographer and address such concerns accordingly. (Note: I may have indulged in several off-camera.)
At first sniff, one is greeted by the succulent scent of hazelnuts and chocolate. It’s quite a warming smell, one that promises a great experience for the tastebuds.
At first taste, “Mmmm!” These fine wafers are quite adept at hitting the spot. The wafer is thin, sugary and light. The chocolate doesn’t leave a cheap aftertaste, and the touch of hazelnut is simply a delight!
On taste alone, these wonderful little things shoot straight to the top, however there is one concern that’s inherent in their design: T.A.B.F. (They Are Bloody Fragile.)
Some wafers were harmed in the making of this photo shoot.
While a steady hand and much care is required in order to savour these beauties intact, I’d wholly prescribe them to anyone who suffers from sweet-tooth syndrome. They’re tasty, quick, and dare I say, fun.
Utilising the latest and greatest in rating standards, I proudly pronounce these fantastic wafers a well deserved:
Best part of a quite large group of deaf people on a cruise:
Taking over an entire hot tub that is already full in under 10 minutes!
Here's how it's done- Two deaf people enters, across from each other in the (already-full) hot tub, start signing to each other, grabbing the attention of people within.
3rd person comes in, perpendicular to the other two, then start signing too, causing the other two deaf persons to look at him/her, which in turn, cause the two people directly to the left and right to feel uncomfortable with everyone staring at their direction.
At this point, with the hot tub being filled even more, and whatever conversation topics erased by the fascination of seeing sign language, at least one or two people will feel awkward and uncomfortable and leave.
When a person leave, another deaf person will jump in to take their spot, and join the sign language conversation.
At this point, people will start feeling more and more awkward, and leave while more of us come in, and before you know it, we have the entire hot tub to ourselves!
Definitely an awesome social experiment experience!
Pft, I posted a picture as the background to my profile page but it's too small to take up all the space. I'm wondering if I dare tile it. I'm wondering why I'm bothering as only a small part of it's visible round the edge anyway.
I should make a new picture for it. Something that only has an edge and a bunch of blank space in the middle. Like my brain after midnight.
I went in the chat room. Which brought on a wild attack of social phobia, resulting in emergence of inner geek. EEK! EEK! GEEK! But apart from that it was jolly good fun!
Oh dear, I discovered the gallery and now I'm rummaging through all my old crap for things to post. Cannot resist a gallery. Gave up smoking, excessive drinking and hanky-panky (latter not by choice) but am still addicted to galleries. Oh well. There are worse things.
So to bed...
I haven't written anything on this blog in a few months.
I had a phrase of like zero writing. I just didn't have time or motivation to write.
I'm going to try to get back into the groove though. I'm putting time aside as often as i can to write.
What's in the works?
- 'House No. 654: London's Best Little Whorehouse'
Pearce takes pen to paper and decides to tell his story. He didn't know how anyone would take it; but it was time for the world to know what happened to him inside House 654.
This story is for posting on GA
- 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic'
'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' is a novella following the themes of Love , Betrayal , Hope and Deception. We follow mainly the lives of Erica , Tony , Ivan ,and Mellissa. I never said this was a happy tale , i didnt say it was a sad tale either. Its just not for the faint of heart..
This is a story I wrote for several months a while back here on GA, but I never finished it. I'm going back to finish it now and clean it up. Hopefully, this story is going to be published
- The Valley of The Kings
A war has been waged for centuries. A war that has repeated and repeated and repeated. And who exactly are the Beings Above?
This was a short story for the Mentor Program Fall Project. This is a story to be written on GA.
- LIke Dust
In 3012, the world was invaded by a mysterious alien race. And why did an umbrella change the world?
My creative writing short story piece. Will be posted as soon as my portfolio has been finished.
So i have a few things coming! Just will post when I get them done
Thanks for reading <3
- 'House No. 654: London's Best Little Whorehouse'