The People’s Curiosity 

Every time there is a tragedy, whether it is one personal to you or one where the masses are affected, we cannot help but to ask why it happened. “Why did my friend beat cancer to only die of a stroke?” “Why did that person shoot down all of those people?” We are curious by nature. That is why religion exists. Because people are curious and want answers and sometimes religion is needed to give those answers.

But what happens when there are no answers? It’s hard to believe that any God would wish that type of slaughter of the masses, so is there really an answer to be found in your belief? What happens if there are never answers? Will it be something that we will obsess over? The unfortunate reality is that sometimes there are no answers and we have to be okay with that. We have to accept that sometimes people just snap and kill people without any reason or without any one definitive answer.

Right now, we are obsessed with Las Vegas. But soon we’ll forget about it as we have with every other tragedy. Nothing will change. People won’t change. People need to change. Everything needs to change.

This isn’t about gun control. Another unfortunate reality is that there is nothing that we can do, and I say that as a person who thinks the idea that anyone can buy a gun without anyone looking into them is a crazy idea. People are still going to find guns illegally. People are going to find ways to cause whatever mayhem and destruction that they want to. It’s a terrible reality that we cover up by thinking reforming gun laws is going to help. We like to lie to ourselves to make ourselves feel a little bit better about things.

I’m afraid to send my kids to school, even my youngest at elementary school. I don’t admit it to them. I worry when my oldest walks to Burger King. I worry when he takes his scooter out or goes to a place where there are a lot of people. I worry whenever I go to a convention, looking around for the closest exits wherever I am. When I’m at home, I have something hidden in every room that I could potentially use as a weapon just in case. I worry but I suck it up and just hope that today is not going to be the day. We think that because we live in the greatest country in the world that nothing is going to happen and that we are safe. We’re not. The worst part is that it is not the terrorists from other countries that we have to worry about; it’s ourselves.

Now that I’ve already said that sometimes there’s never going to be an answer, that gun control laws are not going to help matters, and that I live in fear, you may be thinking “but what can we do then?” I don’t know. I’m a writer. I write thoughts and feelings with the hope that someone gets inspired about my words or sit back and go “I know exactly what you mean”. Maybe if we taught our kids to wake up and make someone smile every day. When my youngest goes to school, he hugs anyone that will let him to say “hello”. He smiles at other kids and they seem to be infected by the smile, and a chain reactions of hugs and smiles happens. We could learn a lot from kids. At jury duty yesterday, as miserable as I was to be there (massive sinus headache and general illness in addition to the “ugh, why do I have to be here every 3 years”) I smiled at everyone I saw and politely conversed with them despite my better nature to ignore everyone and just stay to myself. I wanted to see what happened. As it turns out, everyone smiled back and engaged me. They seemed better and it started a chain of kindness.

The whole point here is that maybe we can change. I keep emphasizing that our children are a blank canvas that we can mold into better people than their previous generations, but we can be better. Start off by doing one kind thing every day. It could be a simple smile at another person or it could be a larger act like donating those clothes that you’re never going to wear again or donating time at a soup kitchen. We have more power than we think we do. That is how I think we can change the world.

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But Boy, Am I Tired

I’m tired. I am tired that we live in the world we live in right now. My latest release, a short story, was supposed to make me feel better about the social climate of the world right now. “How Not to Be a Bully: The Guide to Being Kind That We Shouldn’t Need” was inspired by this hatred we seem to have towards each other. It needs to stop. It has to stop. Our future generations are depending on this to stop now. They are going to be poisoned and the future will be full of people who think that a reasonable conversation is one where people hurl insults because the other doesn’t agree. What happened to that time when people could sit down across from each other and say “Well I believe this and this is why” and the other would say “Well, I don’t and this is why”? Is that really so hard?

Over the weekend, my family (I include my husband’s family as my own) took the annual trip up to this gorgeous orchard in the mountainside for apple picking. After having a great time enjoying the Pats game on my phone while picking apples, we went to the car to drop off the apples to sit around the stunning view and enjoy ourselves. (Even living in Massachusetts, the views here never get old.) As we were walking back, we heard screaming then saw a truck angrily pull over and everyone started piling out of the vehicle. I didn’t know what was going on until I noticed the signature red hat that we are all familiar with. That’s right, two grown men got in a fight about politics in a place where families are trying to enjoy their Sunday afternoon. Apparently the anti-Trump person said something to the Trump truck group and the Trump truck group felt the need to pull over, pile out of the truck, and get aggressive back. I told them to please not swear in front of my child and the Trump person turned on me. “It’s that f_ing snowflake’s fault. He disrespected me.” “When you got out of the car instead of ignoring it, you became just as guilty. Grow the hell up.” The very kind woman at the orchard apologized and asked the group to get back in their truck and to leave. The other guy, just as guilty in this for starting it and continuing it, should have also left for being a nuisance. He said it started over the other guy insulting his wife. My opinion: Ignoring people is a lot better for everyone. I again ask “Is being kind really so hard?”

Instead, we live in a world where people are constantly putting each other down. It is easier, I suppose, to lump everyone in with hateful words rather than being open-minded. We all are entitled to having a specific set of beliefs. I really like to hope that people can sit down with each other and have a reasonable conversation without the terms “racist Republicans”, “snowflakes”, or “libtard” ever being mentioned. It’s a foolish dream, but one that I have no less.

The thing is… this is not something that we can’t achieve. It can happen if people learn to put their pride aside, stop thinking that they are smarter or better than anyone out there, and just listen to another perspective. As the expression goes: “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak.”

I can start by making this very simple for you. No, not all Republicans are racist, uneducated, misogynistic white men. There are some but that does not mean all of them are. Not all Democrats are “snowflakes”, whiny liberals who are offended by everything. There are many people who are offended by everything, on both sides of the aisle and many “whiny” liberals but not all Democrats are any of those things. Independents are not wishy-washy people that can’t choose a side. These are people who realize that both sides have their flaws and would rather vote on political stances rather than a political party. I am a proud Independent and I know exactly how I feel on every political topic and that is what decides my vote. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Not all Catholics are pedophiles. Not all Puerto Ricans and minorities want to live off of welfare rather than work. Not all cops are corrupt murderers. However, all politicians lie. That is a fact that we can agree with. (Just kidding… there may be one or two out there that don’t.)

The point is that this is getting out of hand. We’re Americans, dammit. We have the right to an opinion without getting insulted for it. If someone is telling you something, you can fact check them. However, that doesn’t mean a person is insulting rather they are just trying to point out that you may be missing some information that can be helpful for making an informed decision on any topic. If you don’t want to listen, that’s your right but in neither case should anyone spend any effort insulting each other. What does that even prove? That the other person is right about their preconceived notion of who you are? We’re better than that. We have to be better than that. (Shameless promotion incoming) This is the whole point of my short story, which is now available in eBook format on Amazon.

Taking the Knee

This may be a controversial stance to take, but this taking a knee thing has gone too far. With healthcare being a mess, a broken government body in place, and a risk of potential nuclear war facing us, we are arguing about how people can peacefully protest. Part of me even fears (the conspiracy theorist in me) that this is the goal to distract us. To divide us. I’m actually just bored with the entire thing. Maybe even a little fearful. But football is the one thing I look forward to and I just want to watch it without people telling me how I’m supposed to feel about it.

I think it’s a dangerous slope to be on when we start telling people how to peacefully protest. Would you rather people riot in the streets, destroying property and potentially lives or some guys kneeling in protest? Personally, I say let them. I don’t agree with kneeling for the anthem but I’m not in the business of telling people how people should use their constitutional right to protest if they are doing so peacefully. This does not determine how I feel about them. They are just football players that are voicing their opinion. I won’t be told how to be felt by anyone, celebrity or otherwise. What they are doing just does not register on “things to care about” list. I know there is racial injustice. I know racism is alive and well. I also know that there is more to it than that right now and if this is how they want to address it, it is their constitutional right. You know, that thing people throw in your face to prove their point but ignore it when it doesn’t suit them.

In fact, before this madness started I even stated that Trump was going to inflame the situation. He did. Now the entire league seems in solidarity just because the guy that is supposed to lead us to greatness and uphold the constitution can’t filter his mouth or Tweets. He’s not leading us to greatness; he is trying to divide and conquer us. Spoiler alert: I was right and it’s working.

Did I have issues with Kaepernick doing it? Sure did. I don’t like the idea of celebrities dabbling in politics and I think that the nation anthem is a moment to silently respect and honor our country. That’s not why I think he shouldn’t be in the NFL. Even before all of this started, I thought he was an overrated quarterback that was way overpaid. Do I think that’s why he’s still unemployed? Absolutely, you can’t want the big millions and not be worth it. Plus, your girlfriend posting pictures that imply racism about a team that was potentially about to sign you to get a contract deal ripped up on you probably doesn’t help matters. If that story is 100% accurate, good luck on that NFL contract. Twitter seems to be the place to upset the masses and ruin careers. In other news, if you are a Patriots fan, feel free to protest their games. I have never been and I would really love to afford a seat for me and my family preferably without having an anxiety attack for being so high up at the stadium.

Then there is the whole Golden State Warrior thing. Brady didn’t go to the White House when Obama was in office. But Obama also didn’t say “well screw all of you then. I’ll just party by myself?” Can you imagine the outrage that would have occurred? There would be a riot. “That was so childish.” They would say. “Dictator Obama is squelching the masses and their freedom of speech. Impeach him!” If you are denying that would be the case, you are really too far off the logic meter to even reason with.

I digress. The point is matters are only going to get worse unless someone can finally get the president managed. People look to him as an example of how we should be. He is (should be) the biggest representative of our country, leading us to even more greatness with grace. Instead, all of this transpired in a single weekend of tweeting and not being able to keep his mouth closed. For all you people who argue that Obama caused this, I ask “But what has Trump done to fix it? What has he done to repair our country and help us come together?” Well, aside from potentially joining everyone together in distaste of his actions.

The constitution doesn’t say “You have the right to a peaceful protest, with the exception of the following: kneeling at the national anthem, protesting at science/women rallies, tweeting opinions about the president, in any peaceful way that really doesn’t hurt anyone, or in any way the president disapproves of.” I’m pretty sure it does say “You have the right to peacefully assemble and protest.” America was built on the right to stand up to oppression and stand for your rights and beliefs. The minute we deny these things, the minute we lose those principles that make America so great.

Celebrities and Politics: What You Need to Know

You know what’s great about America: freedom of speech. We have it. Our politicians have it. Our celebrities have it. We should appreciate this more than we do. We are lucky to have this, especially as so many people across the globe do not have this luxury.

I’m going to let you in on a secret that you may not know: You also have the freedom to ignore another person’s freedom of speech. They say something that you don’t like? Guess what? You can smile, not, and ignore it. Don’t like what celebrities have to say? Ignore it. I record award shows so I have the ability to just fast forward through things. Don’t like how MSNBC leans their commentary? Find one that leans to your particular bias or interest. We have the ability to choose. Isn’t it great?

Do I think that maybe the celebrities at the Emmy’s laid it on a bit too thick? Absolutely. Am I complaining about it? No, because they have the freedom to do that. I just fast forwarded when it got annoying to me and moved on with my life. I will watch every other awards show for as long as they have them and do the same thing. I enjoy watching shows get recognized. I like the debate of why a specific show should have won. (Though I am quite happy “Big Little Lies” won so much. I loved that show and I need to read that book.)

You do not have to agree with a person’s beliefs. I know, this can be SOOO hard to understand, especially in today’s political and social climate. I don’t particularly care for pretty much anything I have ever seen Tweeted out by James Woods; in fact, the most recent tirades are a bit off-putting. Is “The Virgin Suicides” still one of my favorite movies? Absolutely yes. I thought he was excellent in it and the movie was an overall fantastic piece of work. I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it already. (I did read the book, and the book was really also fantastic.)

The point is, suck it up buttercup. The celebrities chose to use their platform to say what they felt. If you had that same platform, you can get up there and say how you feel. I would hope that you would give them the same exact respect that you expected from them. Though, spoiler alert: You will probably get the same exact horrid response that you gave them. As long as you aren’t using slurs, hate speech, or bullying behavior, you can really do whatever you want and I really don’t care. However, I am all for the “Punch a Nazi” movement. It’s as American as you can get. Also bonus points for Spicey, who really seemed to have a sense of humor about everything.

Insert Controversial Political Title Here

I’m tired of hearing about the election. It ended. It’s done. Hilary lost, unfortunately that ended up meaning Trump won, and that’s the end of it. (Before I get “liberal snowflake” commentary, I welcome you to read my posts about the election where I was against both of the major party candidates. I did vote 3rd party and I’m not ashamed of that.) Do I want to hear about it being rehashed all of the time? Nope. There are certainly more important things that should be addressed in the media.

Instead, we have to listen to election stuff. Stuff that happened a year ago. Now, I’m not even going to touch the Russia thing here. If something illegal did happen, then I would hope that justice would take place. My issue is listening to news articles every day about “How Hilary Lost?”/”Why Did Hilary Lose?” I really don’t want to hear her rehash everything with excuses of why she lost. “I should have been more aggressive with Trump.” “Russia did it and I should have been president.”

The fact is that Hilary only got as many votes as she did because she was the Democratic candidate. That is a reality. I don’t think it had to do with women voting. It was a party line that people didn’t want to cross, especially not for Trump. “She was the qualified one.” Qualified means nothing when it comes down to making the American people decide. Just look at all of the past winners on reality television shows. Most of the time the most talented one doesn’t even win.

I can tell you exactly why she lost, as someone who has pretty much voted for every political party at one point or another. It had nothing to do with the fact that she was a woman. There may have been a bit of sexism but not enough to make her lose by that much. She lost because she ended up being a less likable candidate than a reality star that turns different shades of Cheeto. She lost because she seemed to act like she was entitled to the White House. She lost because she definitely did shady things with her emails and perhaps even shady dealings with her foundation. She lost because she thought the celebrities she had on her side were going to be enough to carry her to the win. She lost because she didn’t appeal to the everyperson. She lost for so many different reasons that you can’t even pinpoint exactly one that did it.

Do I think that Russia interfered with the election? I don’t know. I don’t know all of the facts and unlike some people, I refuse to make a judgement without knowing everything. They probably did, but they probably did 10000 times before and not just in America. Does it make it right? Absolutely not. The bigger question is “Did Russia interfere enough in the election to make her lose?” Maybe instead of getting mad at Russia for revealing the shady behind the scenes disaster that was the DNC, maybe you shouldn’t have rigged the election to put a losing candidate on the ticket. Maybe they thought the Clinton name would make the election a sure thing. Maybe they thought they would win because “Look at us, we’re the progressive party that put a woman on the ticket”. The 3rd parties have been doing that for a while, you’re not the special for doing it. Would the election have gone a different way if Bernie had one? I think so, but I’m just a writer spewing opinions rather than a political pundit that lives and breathes political theory.

So instead of complaining about the million reasons that you lost the election, do something else to create change. Volunteer at soup kitchens. Do backpack drives for kids who need school supplies. Support the arts in schools. Raise awareness of genocides, the need for vaccines and medical treatments across the globe. Do something instead of whining about what you could have done differently. Prove all of the doubters, including myself, that you would have been the better choice. (Though to be fair, I did think both major party candidates were awful choices.)

 

My Not-So Little Boy Started High School

Sure, this is a few days late, but the beginning of the school year is always a busy time of year especially when you are simultaneously prepping for a birthday party. Milestones are aplenty in the LaRochelle household these days, with the “baby” going to kindergarten later this week. (On Thursday, so I can cover the inevitable tears over the moment.) But Freshman year is a milestone all its own. This is the beginning of essentially the end of childhood. This is where you decide on colleges, possible career choices, first dates, long(ish) relationships. High school is a big milestone.

… And my oldest baby just got there.

I expected tears. I expected being a nervous wreck. It didn’t happen. I made him cinnamon rolls, listened to his concerns, congratulated him on his achievements, and let him know that I knew he was going to do great things in high school and beyond. He nodded and smiled that smile that only people who know him could truly appreciate. That smile let me know that he was going to be okay. Or at least as okay as any teenager who had trouble falling asleep and woke up at 4 AM could be. When he came home, he expressed how much he liked his teachers, how he had friends in every class and had lunch with one of his “baseball bros”, and then passed out for 5 hours. I did say that he was up at 4 AM, right?

The fact is I have done everything that I could to prepare him for this. I have tried to give him the confidence he needed to take on the world. I tried to give him the compassion to be an amazing person. I tried to instill charity, love, and kindness. At this point, we will find out if I gave him enough. Essentially my time of teaching him is over. Now, I just have to hope that the foundation he was given was strong enough to see him through.

That’s the hardest part of high school as a parent. Hoping that you gave him the strength he needs to face the cruel world and the kindness to come out on the other side. It is his time to make decisions, hopefully inspired by everything he has been taught. I am here to give him advice, hugs, and cookies. Ultimately, that is all I am here for now. He will make his own decisions, forging his own path. Unfortunately, this also means being okay when he inevitably falls. Because at the end of the day, we can only pick them up afterwards and hope that they learned from the fall.

High school is an emotionally tiring journey for both the kids and parents. We have to be okay with that and trust that we did everything that we possibly could to give them what they needed to succeed.

Changing Course Doesn’t Mean Giving Up

I look around at all of the things that I can do. My skills (writing, crafting, anything in the realm of “artistic” except photography. I’m terrible at photography.) are seemingly unmarketable in an industry that has so many other people who are just as skilled or better in these areas. In fact, I would argue that the difference is their ability to market and network themselves. As much as I try to learn, I just have not mastered that skill yet. It’s easy to just give up, but I’m not really one for quitting.

Instead, now there is a struggle of finding an actual better paying job that gives me the freedom to continue to create rather than just spend all of my time working and not get the time to spend with my family or my art. I think that I have found the path I need to be on, I just need an extra push to get me there. Changing course with a potential job that is actually pretty exciting for me, that doesn’t mean I am giving up. Sometimes you just need to change your course for a while so that you can achieve your dreams. That’s okay.

There are goals that I have. I intend to expand this site for other endeavors, such as branching out into individual blogs/articles (such as a gaming/geek culture link for my local area) and adding an e-commerce site to sell those little crafty things that I make without bothering with other sites taking a cut. I will continue to work on my books, including the 2 I am currently working on. Eventually, I will go back to school to get my MA in Creative Writing. From there, what will I do? There is no real end game. I just want options. I want to stay at a job because I like it, not because I have to. These are my goals and those who know me know one thing: I am annoyingly stubborn. What I lack in entrepreneurial spirit, I make up for in grit.

The lesson here is quite simple: you can change the course that you are currently on a bit to achieve whatever goals that you may have. If something isn’t working out for you, try a new way of doing it. As long as you end up where you wanted to be from the start, you have succeeded. Some people are lucky enough to have this right away. Others may wait a lifetime. However, giving up is never the option.