Monday, September 21, 2015

Repost from G+

With thanks to +Paul Ramsay for sharing this.

This is long.  Read it anyway.  Then listen to the talk a few times over the next few days and weeks.  Share it.  Remind ourselves and each other that even *good, kind people can be hanging judges*when we forget we are all creatures drawn in grey colors, not in black and white.

Yesterday at service, our minister talked about the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and the idea of forgiveness, of releasing the ties to past hurts and errors and moving on with resolve not to repeat mistakes.  The UU hymnal has the following reading in it, which this Ted Talk by Jon Ronson brought back to me so strongly.

For remaining silent when a single voice would have made a difference

We forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

For each time that our fears have made us rigid and inaccessible

We forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

For each time that we have struck out in anger without just cause

We forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

For each time that our greed has blinded us to the needs of others

We forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

For the selfishness which sets us apart and alone

We forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

For falling short of the admonitions of the spirit

We forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

For losing sight of our unity

We forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

For these and for so many acts both evident and subtle which have fueled the illusion of

We forgive ourselves and each other; we begin again in love.

Ronson finished his talk with what I thought was the most deep-striking realization -- the touted voice that social media gives the voiceless has turned, so that the best way to remain safe on social media is to be silent -- voiceless.
What Voice Do You Speak With?

Watch this, and then think on it a bit, and then maybe watch it again tomorrow. Think about how we all have some times when we contribute to this culture of shaming. We move too quickly from disagreement or disappointment to outrage when others say things or write things or do things that we don't agree with.

The internet brings details to us with such speed, and we have been living at this speed for long enough, now, that we let ourselves sort of live carelessly at that tempo. We don't fact check. We pass the "facts" on with a click, and we add our sentiments, our reaction, to the narrative that is building. It can be a terrible, damaging snowball effect.

I've posted stupid things on social media before. I've made comments that were not crafted as articulately as they might have been, so they came off as insensitive. Usually, it was because I was acting on an impulse, rather than on an intention. But I want to live my life with good intention.

I want my first instinct to be one of compassion, not outrage.
I want my first action to be one of kindness, not of aggression.
I want to be impeccable with my word.
Twitter gives a voice to the voiceless, a way to speak up and hit back at perceived injustice. But sometimes, says Jon Ronson, things go too far. In a jaw-dropping story of how one un-funny tweet ruined a woman's life and career, Ronson shows how online commenters can e

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Had an idea and started scribbling it today.  Here's a taste.

“Ma!  Ma! They’re comin’!”  I grabbed little Letty as I scooted across the dusty yard toward the house.  “They’re coming’!”  Letty squirmed in my arms, her dirty pink shoes kicking at my thigh.  She was almost too big to carry and her legs hung down because she was too mad to wrap them around my hips.  “Ma!”

Ma Deuce strolled onto the porch, her whip sword wrapped around her waist, the pommel under her right hand.  She was such a little woman, sort of squat and dark, grey streaks in her braided black hair, but she always seemed bigger than me.  Behind her, taller but so slight she practically faded,  Kelly Ann looked out.  She had another baby on her hips and she looked scared.

"Get the little 'uns inside, Amber, and see to the Mister."  Ma's voice didn't match her appearance, either.  The Tamil she'd talked as a baby was paved over with the clips and stretches of the mountain people's speech.  My own speech had taken on that flavor, too, since I'd found refuge here in the old mountains.  I snagged Hunter's arm and pulled him with me, and Tag followed without being pushed or told.  We hurried into the house behind Ma's shadow. 

"Yes, ma'am."

"How many?"  Ma asked, voice low, as I scuttled passed her.

"Two trucks.  Maybe five or six."  I dropped Letty to the floor and pushed her toward Kelly Ann.  "Tailor saw 'em first and took off to the blind."

She nodded once, sharp and definite.  "Good.  Where're  Tony and Skye?"

I shook my head as I untwisted Hunter's hand from his grip on my jeans leg. "Didn't see 'em."

She nodded again, just once, and I pushed the two little boys in front of me before they could stop being scared and start being curious. 

 Kelly Ann gave me her wide eyed stare and slowly backed into the shade of the house. "Amber, " she whispered, "Was Prentiss Waine there?"

I shrugged, herding the little ones toward the kitchen.  "I didn't see.  Check the back door and the windows.  Get Lilly to help you."  She stared at me for a few more breaths and my impatience got the better of me.  "Kelly Ann! Move it!"  Shaken, she hitched up the baby on her hip and moved down the hall toward the kitchen.

I turned the other way to the big bedroom.  The Mister lay sprawled on the bed, a sheet carefully laid over him so that only his face showed in the lamp light.  It hard looked like a human face, it had been beaten so hard.  Swollen eyes, swollen nose, swollen lips, little bloody lines of cuts every which way, and some of his hair shaved off so Ma could stitch his scalp.  I wasn't sure he could see me when I crept in to secure the window and put the wooden shades in place.

"Whus habbnin?" he murmured at me, making me jump just a little.  He'd crawled his way to the back door late last night, scaring Kelly Ann near to death.  Tailor and I had carried him inside.  He'd left us yesterday morning, saying he intended to get what he was owed, and we'd all slunk around the whole day wondering if he'd ever come back.  Except Ma.  Ma told us that the Mister would do what he said he would do, no matter.

"Two pick up trucks comin'. "  I didn't have to tell him who was in those trucks.  He knew better than I did.

"Whes Ma?"

I carefully lifted the cold pack against his jaw and examined the red and blue bruises underneath it.  "On the porch."  I reached for the clean rag resting in a bowl of water and squeezed a few drops into his mouth.  

"Good."  He moved one hand under the sheet, the one that wasn't wrapped in tight bandages.  He was hurt, but not near killed.  They wanted to teach a lesson, not murder a useful man.  Still, it hurt me to see his big muscled body so battered and broken.  "'Ey won find it."

"You be still, Mister.  Ma will skin us both if you mess up her work."  He chuckled soft in his throat and I turned down the lamp so it barely flickered and  put it on the floor between the table and the wall.  I didn't want anything to hit it and catch the house on fire.  At least the house was cinder block.  I closed the door behind me, knowing full well that the Mister wouldn't be resting even in the dark, not until this was over.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

I plug my own publication

Guess what?

I finally published this story I've had kicking around for some long time.

I'm supposed to publicize it, something I am in no way suited to do.  I'm just not comfortable telling people that I did something, that it's good, and that they should agree with me and be excited about it.  In fact, I just don't have those thoughts anymore.  I did once, but it was a long time ago and I can't remember how it worked.

But that's my Crazy, and another subject.  This post is about In the Temple of Nogged, that it is available for purchase on Smashwords, it has illustrations by my friend Chris Tsuda, and if you like humorous m/m erotica, it might suit you.

That is all.