I Don’t Agree with You… and That’s OK

Can you be friends with someone who you don’t agree with? That seems to be the question that everyone is asking these days, especially with the divisive political environment that we live in. People have their fundamental beliefs about what is right or wrong, leading to sometimes overly passionate discussions among friends and family that can quite honestly lead to consequences that are absolutely uncalled for. Said consequences include: denial, name calling, and ending the relationship with the other person. These are the times that we live in.

Me? I like having friends that I don’t agree with. As long as they have an informed opinion of the topic and can articulate their beliefs without using the go-to names that the mainstream media on both sides of the aisle use as talking points, I love a spirited discussion. And no, I don’t agree with everything. I will point out untruths. And if people aren’t okay with that, then that becomes their problem not mine. I won’t refuse friendship with them over that. If they want to, that’s ok. I’m okay with losing a friend that has such little value in our friendship that they dismiss it entirely over something meaningless in the grand scheme of the world.

I will not take arguments seriously if you say, “I saw it on ____ (any mainstream media site, left or right leaning).” These organizations are lying to you and trying to skew you in their direction. Don’t fall for it. Be your own person. Back up anything you see on these sites on other sites from all over and piece together the information yourself. I promise those extra few minutes are worth it. Memes? Also definitely not a source of news. Memes are humorous creations that are there to make people laugh, not to tell facts. Again, take the time to do your research before believing anything. The internet lies, in case you didn’t notice. I will point this out and move on with my life. I really don’t care if you argue or call me names afterwards. If you want to believe you’re right and I want to believe I’m right, that’s done and over with and not worth the back and forth. I don’t engage like that.

The more people realize that this is just a phase in the world, the sooner we can be done with it. I find tantrums on social media as entertaining as ones with my child. I won’t pay too much attention and eventually it will go away. Friendships and family are more important that being right. Will it be worth it 10 years from now to break down a strong relationship for something that won’t matter tomorrow? No. It isn’t.

We are all different. We have to accept those differences because that is what makes this country so great. The fact that we are allowed to have our own opinions is something we should treasure, not berate each other for. As someone who has given up faith in supporting either of the major parties, the conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this is all a scheme from both the Democrats and Republicans to occupy us so that they can destroy our country without us paying attention to them. If it is, it’s working perfectly. We are too busy fighting each other and resulting to schoolyard insults that it’s honestly embarrassing at this point.

 

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Can I Just Homeschool the Boys Already?

That is what I texted my husband today. I’m pro-school. I look forward to those precious moments that I have to enjoy snacks without sharing with my kids or getting work and projects done or even just enjoying the house being clean for at least a few hours while the Hurricane and Tornado are at school. Homeschooling my children never even crossed my mind, except to decide that it wasn’t what we wanted.

Every time a school shooting takes place, I hold my boys a little tighter. It shouldn’t be that way. There has to be a better way. Even in a relatively safe location like mine, there are enough violent cities close enough to me to know that anything can happen. School shootings can happen in my quiet city as they can happen anywhere. That is scary. It is scary to know they are supposed to be safe while at school, but they really aren’t.

I received a call from my oldest kid’s school informing me that all week they have been doing lockdown drills. Since this weekend, there have been numerous “hoax” threats against schools in the area, including one threat towards a school in my city. It’s scary. I’m glad that they caught the individuals who made the threats. It should have been comforting to know that these were hoaxes and not credible threats, but it wasn’t. Anything can happen anywhere, and it is scary as a parent to not have any control over that. Especially when a bullet is found in a classroom in a school very close to us, just across the bridge in the next city.

I’m not going to make it about gender. In these cases, girls were involved in the threats. I’m not shocked by a girl doing it when statistically boys are. Girls are just as capable of malicious intent as boys are. I would even argue a point that of all my friends to cross, I would be more afraid of my female friends (honestly, me, I would be more afraid of me) than I would be of my male friends. Gender has nothing to do with these threats. Society has everything to do with this. Maybe they found it funny to cause panic. Maybe they didn’t care about the consequences because they didn’t think they would have any. I hope the books get thrown at them and they get hit in their bratty little faces with it.

If our children aren’t safe in schools, where are they safe? This is not a gun issue. If someone wanted to harm our kids and do that much damage, they could easily make bombs to cause destruction and death. This is an issue of what we are going to do to protect our kids. I’m scared. I can’t let them see it. But I’m really scared. We need to do better.

A Lesson in Humanity… and Practicing What You Preach

Normally I post my “normal” rantings blog every Tuesday. Today, I needed to get something off my chest. Because I’m disgusted and I am pissed off.

I get the idea of the #walkupnotout movement that has grown in response to the walk out protests that took place at schools across our country. As in my previous post, I agree that the problem is the culture of bullying that seems to exist to such an extreme degree these days. I agree with the sentiment of this movement: make friends and be kind to a person who may be bullied or alone to help them feel better. Anyone who is against that type of cause needs a little lesson in humanity. These calls to end bullying are an important piece to the puzzle of figuring out what is causing these kids to snap and shoot up schools. Without this snapping, there would not be a will to shoot up schools.

This movement loses something for me when a person who posts this in response to posts about walk outs then follow up with “Retards”, “Libtard”, “Dumbass Snowflakes”, “Go Back to Eating Tide Pods”, and “Future Democrats in Training”. (Or really anything derogatory in nature.) Why? Because you are bullying these people for not standing up to bullying or being bullies themselves. I will repeat that, in case I have lost anyone: don’t tell people to stand up to bullying to end this culture of school violence by then bullying them. Try practicing what you preach and set a good example for these children about how they can be better people. They are our future but by saying derogatory things like that, you are showing everyone exactly how we got to this place: because they are taught to be bullies by bullies who also happen to be influential adults in their lives.

Practice what you preach. This is a point that needs to be continually made. Teach the next generation to be kind by showing them to be kind. Teach them to form their own opinions and beliefs by letting them figure it out for themselves, whether you agree with it or not. Let them have their own voice, not just recycle yours. Don’t bully kids and wonder why they bully other people. Teach our next generation a lesson in humanity that will last them a lifetime and that they will pass on to the next generations.

 

Teachers with Guns

I’m not sure about most people, but I can think about a few teachers in my time at school where the thought of them with a gun was infinitely scarier than the craziest kid in our class. I won’t name names, but trust me there are a few of them that I swear would have shot their students if they had the means to. Times were different back then. I think. I don’t even know anymore. For all I know, back then was the wild west and they all had guns. Times were different back then.

Joking aside, this week there will be a national protest against gun violence in schools where students will be walking out. (My oldest has been deeply considering this and asked my opinion. As I did the last time he pondered walking out, I shrugged and told him to do what he thought was right. Not sure where he ended up but I guess I’ll find out when he gets home.) I remember when Columbine happened. I remembered the drills that took place afterwards, where the police would actually pretend they were shooters trying to break in the classroom. It was scary, even as a teenager. I knew it was fake. I knew it was just a drill. It was still terrifying as they aggressively banged on the locked door trying to get in. Realism got the point across back then: we weren’t safe in the schools. Every time there was a fire drill, I would worry that it was a fake and something was going to happen. I remember wanting to cover my ears and trying, only to be scolded for it. I remember my chest feeling like it was going to cave in every time we had any drill at the school. It wasn’t their fault. This was just how things were going to be now.

Then, I became a parent. I wasn’t too worried about him at elementary school. Those places are so locked down that you can’t even get in while wearing a hat. Then Sandy Hook happened. I worried every time that I put my oldest on the bus to school that today was going to be the day I get the bad news. Now, I worry about both of them in school. School should be the one place where they are safe from that level of violence. Children should not be massacred in schools.

This is not an anti-guns post. I’m not anti-gun. I’m anti-crazy people and criminals with guns. There’s no perfect solution for this that will fix it overnight. People are going to hurt people no matter what. That’s a fact and a scary one. What this will be is a post that is anti-teachers in the classrooms with guns. The idea of giving federal aid to schools to train teachers to use guns and have them in the classrooms is insane to me. First of all, the original scenario: Giving guns to underpaid individuals in high-stress jobs never ends well. Also, where is this money coming from? I see a lot of policies coming out of this administration that involve money but not a lot of revenue coming in. There is also the final problem with this solution: you have schools that do not have enough money to run, buy supplies, or can’t run after-school programs. There’s no aid coming in for that. But, hey, let’s give them money so they can spend it on the NRA’s cause so I can get more money when election season rolls around. The idea makes me feel uneasy and almost makes me consider homeschooling as an option.

The point is that teachers already don’t have what they need to run a classroom and teach our children. They don’t have the time or the resources because of bureaucracy and lack of funding. But now, you are going to give them money for guns. Awesome idea. Why not make sure that the resource officer is actually on site in case something goes wrong? Why not give them that money to focus on helping kids who are bullied to the point of wanting to shoot up a school? Why not use the money to create better anti-bullying initiatives or more ways to constructively decompress at school so kids aren’t so stressed out? I can think of a dozen other ways that money could be used to help prevent these things that do not involve arming that crazy teacher that doesn’t even want to be there to begin with.

I agree with the sentiment that “guns aren’t the problem; people are.” I don’t have a gun. I’m too crazy for that. I have shot people with a BB gun and didn’t feel remorseful for it. I’m too short-tempered, anxious, and paranoid for that. Heck, I even admit to having something that can be used as a weapon around me at any given time. People are crazy and irrational. Parents are letting their kids do whatever they want without accountability, creating a culture of dumb, entitled, and even more irrational people. “More guns” is not the answer; “fixing the broken culture” is.

Observations Over the Past Week

The Parkland school shooting is something that you keep hearing about every single day since it happened. Some people are completely numb to it at this point. “Oh, another school shooting.” It’s tragic. It keeps happening. But what can we do to resolve it? I have no idea but everyone bickering back and forth about gun control, mental illness, should these kids be smiling, why are they protesting, bad things just happen….. none of these things are helping us. I’m not going to argue for or against gun control. But what I will do is tear apart this disaster.

First of all, this idea that corporations like Avis and Enterprise working with the NRA to give members discounts is really nothing to me. I didn’t know it was a thing before. Good for them standing up on an issue and cutting ties with a money-maker for them. Am I upset that FedEx has announced that they won’t do the same? No. Again, wasn’t aware they had a partnership with them and it’s not like they are making laws in favor of gun freedoms so the fact that they get money from the NRA is really meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

My issue with FedEx is when they say “We are totally against the sale of assault rifles but we’re good with taking the NRA’s money.” That’s a cop-out. If you were really against it, you wouldn’t take their money. What you mean to say is “since there is so much outrage on this topic, we are going to say that we are against their policies to appease customers and impress them that we are being transparent enough to admit that we are still taking their money.” You can’t have it both ways. (Again, I reiterate, I have no feelings on the boycott of these companies for their association with the NRA. I really don’t care. I care when politicians are in the pockets of organizations and make laws that financially benefit the aforementioned organizations.)

Every time a school shooting happens, there is talk of “what can we do to stop it from happening again?” Then, people forget that it happened and shirk their responsibilities in preventing it from happening again. Then, it happens again and it becomes a cycle of outrage then apathy then ignoring the issue until it happens again. I don’t want to look up statistics on how many of these shooters somehow obtained their weapons legally when they really shouldn’t have, such is the case in the Parkland school shooting. Statistics can be skewed and I like facts. The fact is that he probably could have gotten the gun anyways. They keep asking the questions “what did he use to shoot up the school and how did he get the items?” “Why was he able to get a gun?”

Those are the wrong questions to ask. The question we should be asking is “why did he shoot up the school?” The why is always more important, in my opinion. Because when you know the “why”, you can really address the problem and help find solutions to fix it.

When It’s Over

As a writer, there is no other feeling that can match when you finish a project. There is a sense of pride in your work. There is trepidation, worrying that your project was terrible and no one will like it. There is hope that this one is the one that gets you to the point of “making it” so that you can tell everyone who doubted you or called you foolish for pursuing your dream that you are good enough. Validation lets you know you’re talented, right?

The truth is that there is a lot of fear as a writer. You’re afraid you’re not good enough. You worry that you are wasting your time, and the time of everyone who supported you on this journey. You are even afraid that the book will make it. Then you have to face the harsh criticisms of faceless internet people. What if it does very well and you can spoil yourself? There is so much to be afraid of.

The fear isn’t the worst part. The worst part is that feeling of emptiness when you finally complete the project. You spend so much time stressing over getting it completed on whatever deadline, self-imposed or otherwise, that you have to beat. Then, when it is completed, you have that “now what feeling”. The book is up for sale and you just have to hope. But you dedicated so many months or years on a project only to have it finally be done. And there is emptiness that does make you feel a little depressed. Even if you do have projects on your “queue” waiting for your attention.

“A Special Place for Noah” will be up for sale on 2/15. You can pre-order it in ebook format prior to this date by visiting my Amazon author page (or if you follow my author Facebook, the link will be there). I have yet to approve the copy for the paperback version as when I got the first proof, it was 3x the size that I wanted it to be. I’m not very tech-savvy and forgot how to change the page sizes for proper printing since my last paperback was released. Oops.FB_IMG_1518529971930.jpg

As for what’s next? There is still my children’s book that I want to finally finish, which has been on hold because I’m a perfectionist and I need to brush up on my drawing skills. That will be my first goal. Once that is completed, I will be working on the project tentatively titled “Project Team LaRochelle”. My husband, as well as some others, have been trying to get me to write a thriller/horror for a while now. My husband came up with an idea that he was very excited about, so we have decided to collaborate on that. Between his love of horror and my storytelling skills, this should be interesting. If we end up divorced though, you know why.

There is a lot on my plate, including my focus on growing the blog, but I am very excited to keep moving forward. With hard work and a positive attitude, you can do anything. At least that’s what I’m told. I have the hard work down, so let’s see if that’s good enough.

It’s Been a While, Random Rantings

Random Rantings is a segment on this blog where I briefly discuss thoughts and topics that do not warrant a longer 500 words or more post. Today, here is a look at some topics from various subjects that I just felt like talking about so feel free to bring in your own thoughts here.

You Have a Memo, I Have a Memo, We All Have MEMOS!

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That’s right. It’s like Oprah in here right now. I read the Republican memo and then I realized that it was just one guy writing his thoughts like it was the law of the land that we should all obey. If it were that simple, maybe I should say that my blog matters and will really be groundbreaking and everyone will just believe that I am right and awesome just because I said so. Is this really what we have come to today? Where a guy creates a memo that may or may not be factual and sends it out to be released as some sort of vindication? This concerns me. Is this a distraction because Mueller found something and they needed to pull something out of their behinds to distract us from it? Or is it just because people are upset that we were talking about the Super Bowl or the fact that the president may have cheated on his wife Melania. (Shocker, I know. What in his history would ever give us the impression that he would cheat on his wife? Except for every other time he has cheated on a wife…)

Now the Democrats want to release a memo, that in the grand scheme of things will be just as (ir)relevant as the Republican one was. If we really take a logical stand point here, ignoring party lines, are these unofficial documents worth more than the paper they are written on?  The answer is “no”. The memo is set to be decided by the president if he wants to release it, but he needs to. Because transparency. Because you can’t just allow one side of the aisle to do it and not the other. Because if you do let one side of the aisle do it and not the other, there’s a level of censorship there that we should be concerned with. Because if the president only wants us to see one side of things, other questions should be raised. Is there truth to it that he doesn’t want released? Is it just that his precious little ego will be hurt with its release? Does he just want to prove a point that American’s should only see things his way and not the whole picture? If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, then we have bigger issues to worry about.

The New Book

Now, I probably should have put this above the more controversial political commentary above, but I felt that was a bit more important. My latest work, “A Special Place for Noah”, is a piece that I am really excited for. The story is about a family who is trying to help their son overcome his speech delay. It is told in 3 different viewpoints: Callie, the mother; John, the father; and little Noah himself. I hope that people love it as much as I loved writing it. It is expected to be up for sale on Amazon in both eBook and paperback. You can pre-order now as well. Just visit my Author Page on Amazon, which is posted on the sidebar of this blog.

The Pretty Super Super Bowl

In what was one of the most exciting games in a long time in the NFL, my beloved Patriots fell to the Eagles. Why did this happen? How did a backup beat the GOAT? Well, there are a few simple answers to why it happened. You could point to the missed field goal and extra point by Stephen Gostkowski, though this would only account for 4 points. They lost by more than that. You could say it was because Cooks was taken out of the game for a head injury after a nasty hit. Sure, that hurt but Playoff Amendola was clutch and Gronk finally hit a groove where he was on fire. Here’s the hint: it wasn’t the offense that wasn’t doing their job.

Their defense was horrible. Horrendous. Any awful word that you could put there would be an accurate statement for what happened here. They could not stop anything. Nothing. Were those two touchdowns a little bit questionable? Sure, but I’m not well-versed in the rules even though the casters seemed to also think those were bad calls. But that was 2 touchdowns out of how many other times they scored. It didn’t matter. We couldn’t stop them anyways and I bet that the next plays would’ve ended up touchdowns anyways because of how awful they were playing. Did I mention that their defense was awful? Philly is a hard team. They were good. They were communicating and doing well. Why wasn’t Butler playing? His season may not have been his best this year, but he was always known for his clutch plays.

The better team won. There is nothing more to that. There was nothing controversial about it. The refs didn’t hand them the game. The Patriots didn’t give them the game. They won it and congrats to them. No salt here and I’m not even really mad about it. The Patriots got the loss they deserved and that was that. I love great games, even if my team loses.

The Stock Market

Yesterday the stock market eventually dropped a significant amount. Who’s to blame for this? It’s probably just the predicted market correction that we were told to watch out for despite other people saying “everything’s good”. Is it the president’s fault? Probably not. But just like I said when talking about President Obama taking victory laps when the economy was good, you can’t give the person the blame when it is bad and not give them credit when it is good. The same applies here. You can’t give President Trump the credit for the stocks doing well without giving him blame when they go down. That’s the nature of it. You cannot take credit when things are good without taking the blame when they aren’t. That’s not how it works. Should he have taken credit when it was good? I don’t think presidents really have the much to do with stocks going up or down, so no. But you cannot logically think that there isn’t some level of hypocrisy going on. “Of course the Dems are blaming him for the stock market dropping. They just want to see him fail. He’s not to blame. But he’s totally responsible when stocks are up.” It’s not logical. Both the left and right are guilty of this. Maybe we should all start using a bit of common sense, because then 90% of political arguments would never happen.