The Liars, the Broken, and the Cheaters

Last night, I was cleaning the kitchen up a bit before cooking dinner.
I’d decided to try listening to music, despite the fact that earbuds hate me, and turned on my John Denver album. It’s surprising to many people that I love John Denver but, much like Bastian from ‘The Black Swan Company,’ I like almost anything, as long as it’s good.

‘Annie’s Song’ eventually came through the headphones, as I was washing the counter, and it brought tears to my eyes, or more…the memory attached to that song did.

I had a roommate my first year of college, and only year in the dorms.
I never knew that I could get along so well with anybody. When I left for winter break, I remember her running after my boyfriend’s truck in the rearview mirror, dramatic like we were in a movie. We both cried and laughed at the same time, as we knew how much we’d miss one another.

At the end of the year, I downloaded a whole bunch of songs that had her name in it, and we sat there and listened to them together. I’d never heard the song that bore her name by John Denver before, and as we listened, we both burst into stunned yet touched tears…the lyrics were so beautiful, that they acted as a catalyst…an avenue, an excuse to let out the pain that inevitably comes at the end of an era.

Annie was my last friend as a ‘child.’ Yes, I was 18/19 when I met her, but age doesn’t always determine what constitutes adulthood…not in the real world. That was the last year of my life that I was coddled, fed, and taken care of by people. The most difficult thing that we give up, in my oh-so humble opinion, when we become adults is the purity in our relationships.

When we are children, anger, sadness, happiness…they all come through with an honesty most people check at the door of adulthood. We feel love and trust and loss with such intensity, and feel compelled to chase what we want without scruple. When we pass through the veil of adulthood, it contaminates us; money, status, others’ opinions, jealousy, pain, responsibility…they function as the metal bars between us and our happiness…us and our sense of loyality…us and reality, the real yearning for what we want.

Being a child wasn’t easy for me, but my God…I miss the friendships that I had.
I miss the raw honesty between people.
I miss the undying loyalty we had as friends.
I miss the way people would stop at nothing to feel happiness.

When I passed through the veil, I stuffed all of those things under my shirt so that it would never be tarnished…and sometimes, it feels as if I was the only one who did.

When things aren’t correct, it bothers me.
If I’m not happy, I can’t just pretend that I am; I just can’t pull it together, or step up, or drown myself in responsibilities, then refocus on trying to swim to oxygen, the way most people do it.

When you’re young, people impress upon you the American standard: Go to school, obtain employment, marry, reproduce. They swear it’s the path to happiness and security.

I’d like to tell all of you young people, right here and now, that it’s all bullshit.
BULLSHIT.

Being one to heed the warnings and advice of others, to watch those who’ve gone before me so as to avoid their mistakes, I’m telling you now, most people in their 40s are fucking miserable; they PRETEND to be happy, but they’re not. From what I’ve observed, every person in their 40s either doesn’t sleep, is in an unhappy marriage, is unsatisfied in general, or all three. Being either sleep-deprived, in a terrible relationship, or unsatisfied makes them lash out…they’re angry, they’re vengeful, they’re backstabbers, they relish in others’ misery…they’re bored, they make problems out of nothing so that they’re entertained…they’re judgemental, they’re hypocritical, they gossip, they compete with each other, and most of all…they LIE.

And since THEY lie, they think everybody else lies.
And since THEY cheat, they think everybody else cheats.
And since everybody else lies and cheats, they think it’s ok.

The worst thing one can do is lie to oneself.
Let me show you why.

The man who endeavors to cheat on his wife, trying to make it so that she’ll never know, is trying to fulfill a need or solve a problem…only, he hasn’t the tools to solve it.
Maybe he’s not in a sexually active marriage.
Maybe he’s not really in love anymore.
Maybe he’s isolated.
Maybe he’s an addict to sex.
Maybe he just wants to screw around on his wife.

So, he cheats, but he is caught.
He and his wife go to counseling together; the counselor advises him to no longer be in contact with ‘the other woman,’ and he abides.
They try to make things better, but the trust is gone.
The wife stops sleeping with him; she can’t move past the betrayal…maybe she wants to, or maybe she just doesn’t want to be on her own…maybe she doesn’t want their children to have to endure a divorce, and neither does he. Maybe their families are pressuring them to keep their marriage together, or maybe they don’t want their families to know.
They stay together and, damn it, they put on a happy facade, but they’re more miserable than ever.
She’s more afraid of him leaving or hurting her than before, and he’s more isolated than he’s ever been.
Since she’s not wanting to connect physically or emotionally anymore, anyway, he wants to cheat again, but this time…it’ll STAY a secret. And if it doesn’t, who cares? They’re already in absolute misery…he just needs to make SURE it stays a secret and that he doesn’t leave her because it’ll destroy both her and her family.

So, what’s the answer?
It’s simple:

Stop lying to yourself.
Your marriage is over, American Dreamers. Get divorced.

I can keep this going; I can find a woman who will go along with it, and we’d both know exactly what we were getting into.
You mean, a woman who is broken, has no self-respect or foresight, no self-preservation instincts, and doesn’t realize (or doesn’t mind) being thought of as a walking vagina to you? It will end eventually, and when it does, somebody’s going to be hurt. But hey, as long as it’s not YOU who gets hurt, it’s ok, right?
Step up. Stop being a candyass, and divorce your wife.

But I don’t want to desert her.
Tough titties. You should’ve thought of that before you CHOSE to sleep with somebody else instead of coming to her when you had a problem in your relationship.

I still love her, though…and I took a vow.
Sticking around for her is the worst thing you could do. If you’re at this point, all that you’re doing is stealing her time by keeping her from finding somebody who’ll love her better than you are able to.

She’s afraid of being alone, though, and it wouldn’t be right to leave her.
Interesting assessment, but try this one: Maybe she’s codependent. Maybe she hates herself. If you honestly love her, you should be the one pushing her to be happy, even if it’s not with you. She’s fooling herself into believing that she’ll never be better than this, and you’re enabling that notion. Shove her out of the nest and set her free; she’ll learn what real happiness is once you stop chaining her down.

But what about our children? They need us to stay together.
Oh? How so? They NEED to learn what a(n unhealthy) relationship looks like so they can go out and have one just like yours? You want your own children to be just as miserable as you are?

If you think you won’t get caught, that nobody will be hurt, that you’re not using your mistress as a sex toy, that anybody who would be a mistress isn’t a broken fucking person, you feel honor-bound not to desert your wife, that you are being nobel and wonderful by sticking to your vows, that you’re a hero because you’re obliging your wife’s fear of being alone, that your families will think better of you for staying together, or that your children will benefit from your broken relationship staying together…
…if you believe that having a successful marriage is the only way to be happy…
YOU
ARE
LYING
TO
YOURSELF.
And you’re bringing everybody involved down with you, you selfish bastard.

If you’d caught this before the damage had been done, if you were honest with yourself, if you could’ve admitted you were unhappy and had done something to fix the situation, it’d be ok…and if you are in that position, do the right thing now instead of falling onto the quick and easy path.
You can sit there and rationalize your lies all day long, but rationale doesn’t equate to the truth. Until you WAKE UP and realize that you’re not only fucking yourself, but others, as well, you will continue doing harm to everybody around you.

A child may really hurt your feelings when they spit their food into their hand and yell ‘NEH!’
A child may annoy their parents when they throw themselves on their backs, cry, and scream ‘I DON’T WANT TO!’
But FUCK, at the very least, they’re being HONEST.

Sometimes, we need to oblige the child inside of us, no matter how harsh we perceive the impact could damage our lives, because two to one, doing all sorts of sneaky, dishonest shit to make ourselves feel better will fuck everything MUCH worse.

I may be a lonely person who shuts out the liars, the broken, and the cheats because without them, it’s a smalllllllllllll fucking world, buddy.
But I’m ok with that.
My tears from the night before serve as a reminder of what did exist in this world, and I believe, in ALL honesty, what can exist again.

The truth will set you free; don’t let anybody take that away from you…especially yourself.

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Review Culture

I’ve just come upon a realization; I want to type it out, then implement these new concepts, as everything in this subject area had been very fragmented…but it’s not anymore.

So, here it is:

I no longer wish to participate in ‘review culture’ or social media.

Let’s elaborate.

Social Media

I was dragged, totally kicking and screaming into the world of social media.
Granted, the LiveJournal that I kept for about two or three years was voluntary, but it was a different world back then.

Once LiveJournal kind of fell out of fashion, I just communicated with my online friends through messenger services…but then, Friendster came about. My friends were never not talking about how I needed a Friendster every time somebody mentioned the website, so I started a Friendster.
And I hated it.
Then, MySpace came about. Everybody kept friggin’ on and on about how I needed to start a MySpace…so, I did.
And I hated it.
Then, FaceBook came about, and I resisted for years, but my best friend at the time bitched until I started one of those accounts, too.
And I hated it.
I’ll admit that the hatred wasn’t as strong for FaceBook for a little while, as that was when one needed to be a college student to possess an account, so the network was more intimate, but I still didn’t like it.

About six years ago, I made the decision to close my account on FaceBook.
It was a very difficult thing to do, because people don’t call each other anymore…there’re people you want to keep in casual touch with, yet it’s too awkward to call them, so you only acknowledge them on FaceBook; it’s literally the only string keeping two people tied together, sometimes. And I knew that if the account went down, so did quite a few relationships…but FaceBook only made me feel badly about myself, you know?

I didn’t really use the damn FaceBook account, so people were messaging me once my wedding photographer uploaded pictures of my wedding because I didn’t bother to tell anybody on there I was planning on getting married. There were people who I never wanted to run into again, sending me messages…there were people who never wanted to run into me again who I’d message, and had no clue they were angry at me…people unfriend you for reasons unknown, block you for the same…it’s a world based on talking, yet nobody’s really talking.

Admittedly, it really can create the illusion of people remembering your birthday…but you’re in for a rude awakening if you leave, bro.

There just came a point when I had to acknowledge that that fucking website was a shackle around my ankle, and I just couldn’t do it anymore.

And please, don’t even ask me about Twitter. Holy SHIT.
The entire point of Twitter for most people appears to be getting more followers than one is following, and the human connection is just…NOT a priority.

When I published my book, I thought that it was not a choice: I needed a FaceBook and Twitter account, otherwise, nobody would buy my book, nor would they know about it, so I started both of them.

Guess what?

Nobody knows about or buys my book anyway!

After ruminating about making those stupid accounts, I thought that a highlight of starting them would be that I’d be more accessible to more humans, and they to me, and I’d feel less alone…but it just made me feel even more alone, more than ever before. At least the people I love who know nothing about my activities had a reason not to comment or call…they didn’t know.

Beyond that…it really taught me that I do NOT need nor want to know some things about people.

I deactivated my account for FaceBook in July, as I was just tired of sneaks and creeps…and I figured that I was, again, free of the FaceBook monster…but nope; it turns out, a whole bunch of people were upset and/or pissed off because they thought I’d deleted them because FaceBook doesn’t notify your friends of your voluntary deactivation from the website…thanks for that, guys.

So, I now only possess a private Twitter, which I will probably stop using.
…It is not as if anybody really reads it, anyway.

But, I do really love this blog, and I love it because, to this point, it has enhanced my online experience as opposed to made it miserable…SO FAR.

Review Culture

Remember the 90s?
Remember when one would buy a movie or a book and actually had to take a chance on their purchase?

The first person would say, ‘Oh my God! Have you seen ‘Suchandsuch?’ It was a great movie!’ and the second person would reply, ‘Yeah. I didn’t really like it; it wasn’t for me,’ and then they’d both move on?

Well, now, that person who didn’t like it could make their opinion known to the entire world, and maybe even ruin a career or two, while they’re at it.

Yes, there were professional critics (food/movie/book) back then, but reviews weren’t as rampant as they are, nor were they done by laypeople. And hey: Being the anti-elitist that I am, I LOVE laypeople, but sometimes, they review for the wrong reasons, and it can ruin people.

If you can’t say something nice, shut your God damned mouth…my personal policy before I review anything.

There’ve been so freaking many times that I’ve taken a chance on an independent author’s work, as they are in a way my brethren…I’ve taken chances on traditionally published authors, too, and in both situations, I’ve been more disappointed than pleased. Sometimes, I’ve even been outright offended at how badly a book has been slapped together. But there comes a point where we need to sit the fuck down and realize that not every opinion we hold needs to be broadcasted.

As an author, I know EXACTLY how much work goes into a book, EVEN a shitty one; I also know many people who’ve always wanted to publish a book, and haven’t even written a page…so who the hell am I to tell others it’s not worth reading? To tell others that a movie or television show isn’t worth watching?

The thing that is most disturbing is that I’ve felt that…NEED…that ‘oh-my-God-this-is-SO-bad-I-need-to-make-sure-everybody-knows’ thing.

I bought a non-fiction book at a museum…a self-published history book…and when I settled in to read it, I nearly threw it across the room within the first few pages; I wanted to burn a building down once I flipped through it and figured out it only became worse.

You need to realize that as a person who went to school for nine and a half years (most of that being graduate school), most of my writing career has been academic research…I mean, that’s what my graduate degree focused on: Research. And my personal library is probably 85% non-fiction, if not, more so. So, when I realized that I’d just blown about $20.00 on this book (which is of a particular topic that I actually collect) that was, for all intents and purposes completely useless, I was BEYOND batshit mad. It was poorly conceived, the author CLEARLY didn’t have a background in historical non-fiction, nor did she ask for help from somebody who did, citations weren’t implemented properly…the book wasn’t formated properly, she came off as self-important– ok, I need to stop.

…Ok. I’m back.

–…and I put money in her pocket for this rip-off of a book.
I wanted to tell the fucking WORLD.

Instead, I stopped.
I put the thing down, bitched to my friend, then moved on.
This thing, with all of its problems, is this woman’s baby; in all of her ineptitude, this woman was very proud of what she’d created, for better or worse, and no matter how hard I slam it, it will not change…and there’re probably so many people who appreciated (and WILL appreciate) it for what it is.

Most importantly, nobody forced me to buy it; I could’ve flipped through it before I bought it, but I didn’t. So, why make this person suffer because I didn’t enjoy her stuff, right? My dislike of somebody’s material doesn’t endow me the right to keep a person from making money off of their work or try to ruin them.

We need to be aware of the consequences that others must endure because of our actions. I mean, how does it change your life if you make somebody lose their job or ruin their career?

It’s all too easy to be a consumer; it’s hard work to be an entrepreneur or an artist, trying to make it.

Well, I don’t know about you, but…

I just don’t even want to play these social media or review games.
Social media, reviews…these things were created to enrich people, to help people…to bring people together, but they push us apart and make us apathetic.
Our opinions are important, but they aren’t important to everybody; we shouldn’t be fighting about them or ruining lives or careers because of them.

Maybe being a mininal person whose world isn’t open to everybody on the internet isn’t for everybody, but I like it.
I like to really talk to somebody on their birthday, and it makes many people happy that I don’t know it’s their birthday because FaceBook reminded me, but because I just know…I like to keep myself in check and possess empathy for others.

 

Full Reversal

One of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced is alienation.

Being alienated is one of those feelings that just packs a punch…and that punch is not only stronger than a double shot of Everclear; it’s complex. For me, it’s akin to one of those whack-job drinks at chain restaurants with five different types of alcohol and a sidecar of another: It’s pain and insult and degradation and condescension and rejection with a hint of loneliness that only gets stronger and stronger until it becomes the most prominent.

But worst of all, if it catches the victim in the appropriate climate, it can make one question themself…be ashamed of oneself…feel like everything they are is wrong.
It can make one want to crawl out of their skin.

If you’ve read through my blog, you already know that self-esteem used to be a very prominent issue for me; being without confidence and struggling with self-loathing made alienation something that was equal parts devastating and terrifying…it’s just one of those situations over which one cannot exert control, no matter how much one tries. If a person or a group wants to alienate you, there’s not much you can do.

Alienation, though, was the worst when it came from somebody for whom I had strong feelings…such as romance or brotherhood.
A group of bastards who I don’t know, wanting to exclude me from eating lunch with them? Phfft. Go fuck yourself.
Somebody who I had forged a friendship with or I’m attracted to or whatever is a different story.

I grew up in a divorced family, and my father just completely checked-out when my mother left him; he treated both my brother and I not unlike a monster from a German fairy story, and I could never understand why. Things only became worse for me once he had his new wife move into the house with him. I was very comforted when he’d told me that we were NOT guests in his house, but that soon became a bit far-fetched once his adult  stepchildren moved in, usurping our rooms. It took me years to figure out that he hated me because he couldn’t bear the pain of being reminded of my mother every time he saw me, when all he wanted to do was forget about it.

The behavior became worse and worse: My brother made the decision to no longer use his visitation after he and my father had a fight, so I, having a pronounced sense of empathy and prone to gut-wrenching Catholic guilt, had to endure the brunt of my father’s unpredictable wrath.

The toxicity didn’t manifest primarily in physical abuse (even though there was the occasional instance of being hit with a belt); mental or emotional abuse was his poison. I could give examples and go on and on about this shit, but I won’t. I’ll tell you, instead, of one instance, and put it in the form of a question:

Have you ever been left out of a family picture…while you sat there and watched it happen?

Look there: Didn’t even need a metaphor. No wonder I had self-esteem issues, right?

The example is somewhat extreme, but no matter what kind of relationship one is alienated from, it still hurts. When you’re shut out, or it’s very obvious that you aren’t wanted in somebody’s ‘super special club,’ or you watch as others are welcomed into the same position you are banned from…you feel like a child again…a child being put in the naughty chair or stuck with the babysitter or banished from the swingset by their friends.

This feeling’s been kind of rearing its degrading head again lately and, strangely, I’ve decided to challenge this fucker instead of curling into a ball and hiding from it.

As I’ve been going through my ‘personal revolution,’ I’ve come to understand the importance of personal strength, confidence, and self-respect. The answer to the pain that comes with interacting with others usually leads back to having love for oneself, and this issue was no different.

So, please do allow me to tell you what I told myself:

Listen, bitch: Pull yourself together.
They want to play ‘clubhouse?’
They want to behave as if you aren’t ‘important enough’ to let you in?
They want to not take the responsibility to acknowledge the things that they should be acknowledging?
They want to make you the scapegoat, and hand you the short end of the stick?
They want to keep you out because it makes others ‘uncomfortable?’

Well, fuck them.
And that’s not in an angry way, it’s just putting your foot down: Fuck them.

There are people who will make room for you in their lives, and there are people who won’t: You know who they are, and you know what they’re doing. Acknowledge that. Embrace that. You’ve refused to make room for people before, and you know what that means.
So, stop with the pity party you want to throw, stop making excuses for them, and don’t even think about feeling ashamed of the way you run things.

Do you have everything that you’ve ever dreamed of?
No. But this is YOURS, and it’s special and unique and you try to do right and be a moral, honest person, no matter what.
And most importantly, YOU don’t need to toss anybody out of your life to make sure it stays on the straight and narrow, or to please anybody, because you bow to nobody, and you try as hard as you can to work through every issue you may encounter with people who you love because YOU value them.

Do you really want somebody close to you who wouldn’t do the same?
No. You don’t.

They think their lives are so wonderful, but they can’t negotiate themselves because of your presence; they want to shut you out because you can’t step to them? That’s cool. Maybe they can’t step to yours, either, but hey; at least YOU’RE not being a bitch about it.

But most of all, if they won’t make room in their lives for you, they simply aren’t worth it, no matter how much room you’ve made for them. Use a full reversal, and take yourself back from them, because somebody who is careless with you doesn’t care if you break.

Use the effort for somebody who will reciprocate.

‘The Black Swan Company’ Blog Tour Schedule

August 17
Eskimo Princess Book Reviews
http://eskimoprincess.blogspot.com/

August 17
Zenny’s Awesome Book Reviews
https://zennysawesomebookreviews.wordpress.com/

August 17
Share My Destiny
http://sharemydestiny.blogspot.com

August 18
Butterfly-o-Meter Books
http://butterfly-o-meter.com/

August 19
I Love Books
http://jolandaloves2read.blogspot.nl/

August 19
Million Book Mill
http://www.millionbookmill.blogspot.com

August 20
Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock
www.pratr.wordpress.com

August 20
Around the World in Books
http://www.aroundtheworldinbooks.ca/

August 21
Fangirls Read it First
https://fangirlsreaditfirst.wordpress.com/

August 21
Books N Pearls
http://booksnpearls.com/blog

August 24
I Heart Fictional People
http://iheartfictionalpeople.com

August 24
Literary Musings
www.literarymusing.weebly.com

Combined Book Exhibit: New Title Showcase at Book Expo America Review

I participated in the Combined Book Exhibit New Title Showcase at Book Expo America for 2015, and before I shoved my money over to them, I had no clue what to expect out of it because I couldn’t find ONE PERSON who’d participated before reviewing the service.

There were many other people on forums ASKING about it, and their questions would either go unanswered, or people would answer who’d never used the service, saying how would one know that their book(s) were there if they didn’t attend, how it’s a waste of money, how people have better things to do there than peruse the New Title Showcase, what if somebody there stole the book, how they don’t market YOUR particular book but simply put it on a shelf, etc., essentially talking the poster out of trying it. And that’s not fair, is it? These people who’ve NEVER tried it, don’t know people who’ve tried, or anything else about it aren’t giving the service a chance before shitting all over it and talking people who are interested out of trying because they know these people are on the fence.

So, here is the review of my experience:

What the Showcase’s About/How It Works

Combined Book is a book marketing company; what they do (at the biggest book events in the country) is setup New Title Showcases, and obtain books from authors or publishing companies to display in the showcases for a fee, then put your or your publishing company’s contact information in a catalogue. Each book is assigned a number, and anybody (from book buyers to individuals to publishers) can search the catalogue, which is available online, for the book or author, then use the contact information to place orders for the book(s) or whatever business they may have with the author or publishing company.
It is TRUE that your book is not being shoved into anybody’s face; it is on display, though, and people at the book expo may wander up to the books, if they’re interested.

So, here’s what the process was like for me:

I went online,
registered my book,
paid $299.00,
emailed my cover,
sent my book,
and that’s it.

What happened BEFORE the expo?

I found it to be very difficult to get people to email me from Combined Book, to be perfectly honest; I wound up having to call them, and I spoke with Chris, who was not only super helpful, but fantastically sweet. He invited me to call him directly if I ever needed anything, or email him directly, I accepted his offer. As a matter of fact, he was the only one I worked with throughout the process.

When I registered, my cover didn’t exist; he said it wasn’t an issue, and to email him if it was completed, which I did. Later, they sent me an email with a link to their online catalogue, so I looked up ‘The Black Swan Company,’ only to find a completely different cover that was definitely NOT my book; I emailed Chris, and he fixed the issue, along with making a few changes to my contact details. Didn’t bitch about it, even once to me, haha.

The thing that Chris did for me, though, that was the most helpful, was tell me that if my book arrived to their office late, it was fine, and that he’d check the office before he went to the city the morning of the expo; I didn’t need him to do that for me, as I received my book from the printers way ahead of time, but it was not lost on me how great that level of customer service was, and he scored major points for it.

So, even though the others could be a bit unresponsive, Chris was above and beyond.

What happened DURING the expo?

It was frustrating, in a way.

I was desperately tweeting, trying to get some kind soul to take a picture with my book, because I honestly didn’t know if it made it there, and NOBODY responded. I even offered to give them a free ebook if they tweeted the picture: NOTHING.

So, I tweeted the Combined Book’s account, AND sent them a message on Facebook, asking to PLEASE take a picture of my book…and they didn’t respond.

…At FIRST.

But the morning after, this was tweeted AND messaged back:

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 1.31.40 PM

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 1.32.24 PM

It was there, and that’s what I cared about.

And there were a few hits on my website, though, that could be from Twitter, Facebook, or whatever. No books were being sold from my printer, either.

What happened AFTER the expo?

I have had nothing: No emails, no hits on my website, no books sold, nothing.

Was it worth it?

This is going to sound strange, but I think it was.
$299 plus the base price of my book (which I doubt I’ll get back) plus the cost of shipping IS a lot of money to me; I don’t wipe my ass with $100 bills, I’m not rich, and I don’t go around spending money like whoa. But this was something that I’d budgeted for; I can only get ripped-off ONCE…all subsequent times, I’m flushing money down the toilet.

The thing is, if I hadn’t done it, I would’ve wondered if I should’ve done it, and THAT was worth the cost of everything I paid. It was in the same space as publishers, authors, and (most importantly) people who’re just wanting a good book to discover, whereas, it wouldn’t’ve been had I not signed up for the showcase; that was worth it, too.

Would you do it again?

Me, personally? No. I did it, and I’m satisfied that I gave myself the chance, and that’s all that I set out to accomplish.

Would you recommend that I do it?

Why the hell not?
Seriously!
Putting your book in the showcase may open a door for you; it might need that one right person to find it, whether that be a publisher or agent, or a consumer who needs your message, your story, and what you have to offer…and that’s worth a shot, isn’t it?

What did you learn?

That they have one sweet, easy fucking business plan. Jesus christ…$299 per book…a thousand or so books…and all they need to do is haul it to the city once a year, enter some data into a catalogue, put them on the bookshelves, then take them down again?
Fuck me.

The Gatekeepers

I try so hard to stick to the motto ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.’

There are times that I’ve been unable (or unwilling) to stop myself from letting out a slew of emotionally-charged verbiage, whether it be online or in person, when somebody says something that is hurtful, harmful to society (in my opinion, of course), or something that’s so God damn stupid, they’re just asking to be ridiculed. I’ll admit it. But, I try to stay clear of publicly criticizing somebody else’s artistic work, like books, movies, or TV shows through reviews.

Art is strange; there are times when a piece of art will touch many people, while offending others. So, we argue about it, and it essentially gets us nowhere but pissed off because there are no facts to settle the debate or prove anything…you either like it or you don’t. Therefore, if I don’t enjoy something, I don’t comment. All I’d do is insult the artist, and come on…why do such a thing? I fucking hate sauerkraut, but no amount of bitching in the world is going to change it, nor will it alter anybody’s preference.

This’s why I won’t be identifying the movie which started this rant, directly. If you figure it out, then that’s great, but I think it’s best to not name-drop.

I’m a long and hardcore fan of a particular cartoon from the 1980s; it was highly influential to me as both a child and adult, and that emotional attachment has only grown with time. Recently, some people decided that they were going to make a live-action movie out of the cartoon, and upon finding this information, I was super excited. The people who were spear-heading the movie’s creation were taking auditions via social media, and if you follow my blog, you should know by now how much I love me some lay-people. It was like nothing could go wrong with this movie, that they would do it the right way, and there was no doubt about it.

…And then, there was the trailer.

What a complete and utter abomination.
How could they do this — how could they FUCKING do this to my cartoon?
They cast it with ‘famous’ people, they changed EVERYTHING yet stole the name, and turned it into the same, rehashed bullshit that’s on the Disney Channel! They hysterectomized my totally beloved, unyielding, brave female role model until she was nothing more than a timid little girl who allows fame to sully her…they sucked the ethnic diversity out of the supporting characters…they made the film about a fucking teenager, not about a woman who was fighting an evil corporation while maintaining her philanthropic work…they made it about a family who has fame hit it hard and fast, and studies the way it changes them.

In essence, they totally fucked it.

I am not the only one who felt that way. Nearly all of the comments on the trailer were condemning the movie and those involved in its creation, saying how hard they hoped it would lose money, how offended they were, asking how they could rape their memories from the 80s they way they did.

Well, I know how they did it, and I know why they did it, and it’s something that doesn’t get talked about.

As consumers of the entertainment industry’s regurgitations, we need to know how their industry works. It’s like meat: If you know that the cows are treated poorly by giant complexes, and the system is wrought with horrendous practices, are you going to continue to patron the companies and make them more rich and powerful with YOUR money?
I hope not.
I would hope that you’d find independent farmers who feed their cows grass, let them play, live a long time, just be cows who aren’t stressed out and stand in piles of shit, who aren’t unhappy, and patron them.
We are the ones who make these corporations what they are; we vote with our dollars. If we refuse to hand our dollars to them, they cannot and will not be rich and powerful.
We are also taught to be complacent; we’re ingrained with the whole I-don’t-like-it-but-there’s-nothing-I-can-do state of mind, whether it’s about our two-party system or what’s on TV, so we ultimately do nothing.

Can we all kind of, sort of agree that the 1980s was revolutionary when it came to movies and television? Think about it: There are SO many unique, innovative, and daring media creations that came from that decade, shows that did SO WELL, yet would never be touched by a present day executive, ever. Ghostbusters, The Muppets, Fraggle Rock…the list goes on. There was some really strange shit that got through, and people LOVED it.
As time progressed, the creativity died down significantly…the movies began to repeat other works…and the sequels, oh GOD, the sequels!

Whether or not you realize it, you, for the most part, watch the same movie again and again but with different characters. Let’s dissect a genre to show you what that statement means.

Romantic Comedy:

There’s a woman whose life is ok…it’s not GREAT, but it’s ok. And if it’s not completely ok, she just muddles through it, and doesn’t necessarily realize that it’s not that ok.
Then, there’s a man, and he’s also got an ok life, but he’s too sullied to realize it could be better; he might even be a bit of an asshole, but nothing irredeemable.
So, the guy and the girl meet, and…well, it’s kind of outrageous and funny…maybe even a bit touching.
And they hit it off; funny things, sometimes even cutes-ily embarrassing things, happen, and they grow closer.
While staving off the conflict that surrounds them, but just barely, they get into a relationship.
BUT THEN…
TERRIBLE things (or thing) happens, and…somebody feels betrayed, finds out they were lied to, something like that, and they split. (Cue the sad and emotional music as they show scenes of the people being upset by themselves or things that remind them of each other).
Then…something happens to draw them back together: A wise friend who doesn’t have much screen time, a revolution, a secret revealed!
One of the parties comes running, dashing back to the other and says they’re sorry/big speech about how sullied they were but aren’t anymore/tells them some explanation of their feelings that they’d been hiding all of this time, but it’s ok, and then…
They get together, and all is well.

Think of any, and I mean any, mainstream romantic comedy, and you will find the above plot points. If you don’t, them please, name it in the comments because you’ve found yourself a fucking unicorn.

Romantic comedy not your thing?
That’s ok. In the last maybe, oh, 15 or so years, we’ve had PLENTY of movies to choose from:

Lord of the Rings: 6 of them
Beloved 1980s shows and movies: GI Joe, Transformers, Fright Night
Spiderman: A remake, 3 sequels, and another remake
Speaking of the Comic book movies: …Yeah, please don’t make me count them.
Movies from books: Jesus…Harry Potter, Warm Bodies, World War Z, 50 Shades of Grey, The Hunger Games, Twilight, Twilight, Twilight…there are too many to name.
Sequels and sequels and sequels…
Oh, and don’t you DARE not think of the genre hype-trains (because if one freaking movie does well from a certain genre, they’re going to ram it down your fucking throat until you start rolling your eyes at it) that ruin perfectly good genres that certain people’ve loved long before it was nabbed and stripped by Hollywood. THANKS, GUYS.

As of this post, check out some of the movies in the theater: Mad Max (totally original, right?), Pitch Perfect 2 (again), and Cinderella (hasn’t been redone enough).

Think about it: Nearly everything that comes out is sure to have a built-in audience, full of people who love the movie BEFORE anybody even constructed a script for the fucking thing; the tickets are as good as bought before they even cast it. Remember the beginning of this post? Could’ve had one right here; I wouldn’t’ve paid for a ticket, but I was excited.

Well, Luna, that’s kind of true, but what’s so wrong with a sure-thing?

The fact that there is hardly ever new content.

The movie industry is greedy as fuck, and they care about money, above all else. They want what can SELL, and they’ll take nothing less. So, they allow the ones who paved the way with their original content, like comic book writers from 50 years ago, to march in front of them while they cower, too afraid to take a fucking chance on anything. Even if it’s a total pile of shit, if it’s been selling in some other format, they’ll take it!

You know the whole romantic comedy thing? Yeah, if they’re at all willing to even look at a script, it MUST follow a designated plot outline, or they’ll just buy it and rework it to make it follow, because THAT’S what sells. It can only be so long, so edgy, so different, but only enough to fit into a standardized format, because we might not pay attention if it’s not…and if we don’t pay attention, we won’t fork over our money, and we can’t have that.

So, we eat our leftovers, don’t we? Yup, we shrug and shove spoonful after spoonful of thrown-up garbage feces into our mouths, and we smile, because it’s what we know…it’s what’s familiar…and that’s just the way it is.

Another major barrier, and the one that needs to be challenged the most, that is between new content and the public are the gatekeepers.

Let me elaborate:

Somebody has written a shiny, new script that’s packed with touching moments and a plot that’ll make people think really hard, and it’s GOOD…and I mean really good; the Hollywood executives would be biting, kicking, and screaming to get this script, I mean…once they fuck it up with all of their changes. It could sell, though.
So, where does Somebody go to show it to somebody else who could make it happen?
Somebody tries a few movie studio websites, and those websites are very clear: NO UNSOLICITED MATERIALS, AGENTED WORK ONLY.

Ohh…ok.
So, Somebody needs an agent.
Good luck, Somebody.
Every script agent in California is never accepting new clients…well, unless a potential new client knows a major celebrity (you know…somebody who ‘MATTERS’) who directly introduces them to the agent. This basically means they do not feel like ‘wasting’ their time on a ‘nobody’ who won’t advance their reputation…there ARE things that are more important than money, you know.

As it turns out, this Somebody is marked as a ‘nobody,’ and therefore, Somebody and their script are screwed out of ever entering this twisted world of twisted people and practices.
And so are YOU out of ever knowing it.

Meanwhile, this cycle repeats itself again and again…the same douchebags sell to the same douchebags, who deal with the same douchebags, and they, in turn, empty their vinegary douche water all over us, and we pay them to do it. And we ask for more. MORE! PLEASE!

The agents, the executives, even the secretaries who lie and say that people are too busy to answer the phone…they are the gatekeepers, and most of us will never be allowed through the gate…I mean, we’re not on the list, right? It’s only fair.

If you’re thinking: Luna, you’re bitching about this, but what are you doing about it?
I have an answer for you.

I haven’t paid for a movie ticket in 8 years.
That’s right: The last movie that I went to in a theater was ‘Sweeney Todd,’ and it was either the last week of December 2007 or the first week of January 2008.
I absolutely refuse to finance the downfall of Western civilization, or pay them to believe that the only people whose work is worth investing in is a guy who knows a guy, or throw cash at a bastardized, sanitized, reworked piece of crap when there are brilliant people starving who will never receive the recognition they deserve.

I’m constantly told to drink the Kool-Aid when it comes to fighting the power…that there’s no point in ‘rebelling,’ to just cater to the lowest common denominator…that I’m throwing my VOTE away.

But just because you say it, it doesn’t make it true…just like if a movie is made, it doesn’t make it good or deserving of my money. ESPECIALLY that horrible freaking movie about my cartoon, damn it!

Whether it’s entertainment or politics or whatever else is bigger than us…we DO have the power to control it…hell, we DO control it.

We just need to realize it.

The 10 Second Smile

It is not that uncommon for New Yorkers to have some sort of summer cottage upstate (Upstate: anything north of the Bronx), and my family was no exception.

The cottage belonged to my father, and we spent many summers there together in the country side, and I was fascinated with it; there were many people from Ireland who lived there, along with authentic Irish pubs complete with live bands that played traditional Irish music.

So, Luna, how did YOU spend your summer?
I spent it watching ‘Sailor Moon’ and learning traditional Irish dances, betches!

Yes, the kids were welcome into the pubs late into the night; it was a family affair, and even though I’d never witnessed it, the waitresses told us that kids would bring their sleeping bags sometimes.

Talent shows were popular, as well, though they called it something else that escapes me, and I loved those.
One night, dad and I were at one of those talent shows, and it was almost painful to watch; that particular night, it was mediocre act to the next and so on.

Let me pause for a moment and tell you something about me:

There are very few things that I love more than singing.
Before my anxiety disorder kicked into full swing, I was so at-home on the stage, it was disgusting…singing, dancing, acting…I loved it all. I was in a few plays during the summers, had countless dance recitals, played in band, etc.
Once my anxiety disorder was decided that it was panic attack time, the only thing I could do without freaking out on a stage was sing solos; it was the only time the world faded away.
When I tried-out for plays or had to be placed into a section for choir, if they wanted me to sing a song, I’d usually do a song from ‘Annie.’ I’ve known the freaking soundtrack from ‘Annie’ ever since I was a young child; hell, I knew the freaking DIALOGUE to that movie…I loved it.

Back to the point.

I looked at Dad, and he looked at me.

‘I could win this show…I just know it,’ I said.
He smiled.
‘I know you could. Get up there.’
I looked back at the stage, then at him again.
‘I don’t know what I would sing. They probably don’t know any of the songs I’m thinking of.’
‘Just ask. All you could do is try.’

So, I did.
I figured…who doesn’t know ‘Tomorrow’ from ‘Annie?’
Irish guys who are playing a talent show in a pub, that’s who.
But they said to sing, and that they’d follow me.
Ok; that doesn’t seem too horrible. I’ve sung this song so many times, I could acapella this shit.

AMATEUR NIGHT! THAT’S what they called it.
…I think.

Anyway…
So, they call my name.
I grab the microphone.

The sun will come out…tomorrow…bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow…there’ll be sun…

…and then, nothing.

I completely blanked out on the lyrics.
They were GONE.
COMPLETELY.

I’d sung that song so many times…in front of people, by myself…I’d never forgotten the lyrics to a song or the lines to play or the routine to a dance (ok, ONE step, ONE time, but in my defense, it was one of the saddest nights of my entire childhood), and here I was, completely silent in front of an entire room of complete strangers, waiting for me to continue.

I do not remember what happened afterward, but I gave up and went back to my table.
And cried.
My only consolation was that I could sit in the dark, away from the eyes of all of the people who’d just watched me embarrass my 12 or 13 year old self.

Little did I know that it wasn’t over.

To my absolute and utter horror, one of the band members looked in my direction and started to talk about me, how brave it was of me to go on stage…
…then asked for a spotlight to be shown on me.

‘Luna, let’s do a 10 second smile! Everybody, count with me! Smile, Luna! Smile!’

Those 10 seconds of absolute hell were spent fake-smiling so wide that my face hurt, despite the tears that ran down my face. But, what else could I do? I felt that it was necessary to go along with what this man was doing because I wanted to regain the smallest ounce of dignity that night…even though I cried even harder afterwards. It was probably the most humiliated I had ever been. And my dad knew it, too.
‘What you sang sounded great,’ he assured me, but it didn’t matter.

As an adult, it is something I haven’t thought of very much; I sang solos all throughout high school, and I know now that it just wasn’t my night. I feel like what he did was kind of…sadistic, though. I mean, not a purposeful sadistic; I do believe that he felt pity toward me and was trying to make me feel better.

Sometimes, the things people do to make others feel better, no matter how good-intentioned, are hurtful. I’m a person who is, more or less, a self-healer…I NEED to be. My anxiety disorder is clinical; when I’m not taking St. John’s Wort and Passionflower, I am in damn-near CONSTANT panic. My organic state is just horror. Imagine that you had to wade through a lake of poisonous snakes every time you emerged from the house…that’s what it feels like. And that’s not mentioning the details of how difficult everything else is, everything that is seemingly so easy for everybody else to do…and everybody’s judgement of you when you are panicking.

I find it frustrating that the once-in-blue-moon that I break down and cry, and tell somebody…
‘You know what? My life is hard. I worked so hard at everything and nothing seems to go my way. And I’m upset.’
…that they come back at me with platitudes and antiquated bits of wisdom.

‘You need a new perspective!’
‘You need to empower yourself!’
‘You know you’re a strong person!’
Et cetra.

They want so much for that 10 second smile.

Here’s something interesting that they don’t think about:
I need a new perspective, self-empowerment, and every ounce of strength that I may have to even get out of bed in the morning.
Do I whine about it?
Do I fish for pity?
Do I show these people my tears?
Nope.
But once in a while, I need to talk about it.
I am not trying to gain your wisdom on how to try to make myself better because I do that on my own.
I am not ever going to say, ‘Oh, I’ve never thought of it that way before!’
I don’t want your optimism…I don’t want your advice…I don’t even want your pity.

I want you to say, ‘Luna, you’re right. It is not your imagination…things are hard for you, and you’ve every right to cry. It is not that you aren’t trying hard enough…it is not that you lack perspective…it is not that you don’t know how to empower yourself. You’re doing these things, ALL of these things…I know you are…but for some reason, you haven’t moved forward. You do that stupid fucking 10 second smile everyday, and it’s ok to stop doing it. You’ve earned the right to cry.’