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Story Time: Reign Writes – Me As A Writer

ShadowShadow Bolt Reigns, my adventurous puppy, gives me something other than myself to focus on. He forces me out of my head and away from the things that keep me mired in negativity. He nudges whatever he can reach, jumps onto my lap, tap dances on my back or chest (ouch!), and licks my face until I get up to fill whichever need he has, which sometimes is just a few moments of attention. Even now as I write this piece, it’s as if he’s thinking “She writes, therefore I must nudge.” All he’s doing is what comes to him naturally. He’s probably just being completely self-centered without a single thought of my actual feelings or my needs, but he has saved my life and my psyche at least once a week ever since the day he showed up in my life. He’s the  reason I’m still here to talk to you. He keeps me Doing More because he Requires my best.

On any given day, I have at least 5 pieces in progress. I start writing, I lose my thought, I go off on tangents, and end up either deleting whole chunks of text or copying and pasting into new pieces to be worked on when my mind finds its way back to a steady train of thought. This is my version of writer’s block. I have so much to say about so many things; police abuse of power, the attack in Pakistan, the attacks everywhere, being Black in a world that seems to hate Black people, depression, my depression, my family, my friends, the media, the election, the American people, lies and liars, my desperate wish that superheroes were real… so much and so many things I want to talk about, and I can’t Do any of It Justice because the Words are all there at the same time.

Right now, I’m mostly bothered by the way circumstances have changed me. I never wanted to see things through colored lenses. In spite of the kids making fun of my dark skin, the little white boys in Virginia who called me a nigger, the kids in Costa Rica calling me “elote negra” which I didn’t actually understand at the time, but I knew it wasn’t meant as a compliment… the scary big girl in my first predominantly black school saying that I wasn’t special; that I was “just anotha nigga like the rest of us” I’ve always wanted to believe in the bigger picture. You know, the one that sees that the reason the system is set up this way is because it works better for the top 10% if the rest of us are busy fighting and disagreeing with each other, we aren’t paying attention to them screwing us over with crappy wages, the ever-increasing cost of living, and the never-ending list of drugs and products meant to mask the symptoms of the very curable diseases they infected us with.

I just heard a great line–one of many–on Jerry McGuire:

First class is what’s wrong buddy. It used to mean a better meal, now it means a better life.

Have you seen that commercial with Jennifer Aniston?

For me, its a picture of everything that’s wrong with the world. This rich white lady’s Greedy whonightmare is flying on a plane that doesn’t have a shower or bar, while the rest of us are worrying about jobs that we might lose if we take a vacation, and that’s if the job pays enough to afford more than a staycation. I’ve never been a fan of Jennifer Aniston, and this ad, while it might be just another job for her, does nothing to sway my favor. The disconnect between the rich and the poor is beyond vast, and so much deeper than skin… but the tools of division are strong; too strong to ignore. So now I see things through my brown eyes. I experience the world through my skin, through my gender, through my heterosexual privilege. I see the biases. I see the isms. I see the media ignoring dead Pakistanis. I see a reality TV star using the fear and insecurities of ignorant Americans to ensure viewership for his next show. I see it all, and am overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of how well it is working.

I want to talk about it all, but I can barely focus on just one thing because it’s all connected. I feel like I’m not doing the other issues justice by not addressing all of them. It’s like I’m betraying my on mantra by only taking one issue at a time. I want to Do More and Require Better of my writing, and myself, because limiting myself to a world painted various shades of brown and white isn’t enough… and I’m still tired of the black perspective. The world is a big colorful place, and there’s a lot more wrong with it than race relations. I just wish I could Say more too.

Do More. Require Better. It’s not just about you. It’s about me and everything I do here too.

Fear: A Great Motivator

Fear. False Evidence Appearing Real. I’m afraid for the future. I’m afraid of the kinds of changes we’re going through. I’m afraid I’m never going to get Shadow obedience trained. I’m afraid that the Zombie Apocalypse is going to be a real thing and that too many stupid people will survive because all the smart people are going about their lives unwilling to consider the possibilities. I’m afraid I’ll never achieve this “together” level that I’m supposed to be getting life. I’m afraid that I’ll never be satisfied. I’m afraid of being afraid.

The bombings in Brussels yesterday changed the color of this piece. See, the thing about Media Loves Isisterrorists and terrorism is that it’s primary purpose is to strike fear into the hearts of men. So as afraid as I am of so many things, when these attacks happen, my defiant nature kicks in and instead of staying afraid, I want to prove to those people that their antics didn’t work on me. I want to take a train blindfolded with my headphones on and sit right next to a suspicious bag. I want to fly out to Afghanistan with all of my femininity and girldom wearing a tank top, form fitting jeans, and flip flops, rent a car and drive through residential areas blasting old Beatles, Michael Jackson, and whichever local revolutionary underground rapper they’d want to silence. I want to tell the TSA and the NSA and the alphabet soup of agencies to find new jobs because their services are no longer needed and we won’t be letting acts of terrorism direct how we live our lives and treat our people. Much like how my negative experiences with racists hasn’t made me hate white people, I refuse to let these extremists scare me out of living. The only fear I have now is of being fearful… and zombies… because F*ck zombies.

I feel like the suggestions of adding security checks before people even get to the airport plays right into their agenda… Whoever “they” really are. I remember the scenes in Swordfish with John Travolta’s character explaining how  perpetrating acts of Fear... and Spidersterrorism is important ad necessary to the world… or at least maintaining the American way of life. He justifies killing tens, hundreds and thousands of children in the name of maintaining the American status quo. The objective is to keep people afraid to keep us in line. Fear: a Great motivator. Have you ever heard someone say “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” but then they turn around and freak out over a spider? That’s what is being done to us. Drumpf is out there pointing at imaginary spiders. The terrorists are out there breeding wolf spiders, sending them to highly populated areas, and detonating their egg sacks and dispersing thousands of tiny spiders like miniature eight-legged fear bombs. They spread all kinds of fear for all kinds of reasons and we give in to it. They do it to keep us in line, they do it to keep us distracted, they do it to get us to let them do things to us that we’d otherwise revolt for. They’ve been doing it for centuries. The Romans did it with public executions. Slave owners did it to their “white” slaves. Bush did it with his infamous, imaginary “weapons of mass destruction”… and we the people fall for it every time. We the people ignore the voices of reason in our heads and give into the proverbial spiders. Every. Time.

Supposedly, the worst thing that could happen is death. Last time I checked, all of the religious sects Underdoghave happy places to go for the good people and unpleasant places to go for the bad ones. Well, if they’re right, and I’m considered good, what do we have to worry about? If I’m considered bad, with all there is to be afraid of here, going to any version of hell would be just like being here, so what are we afraid of? And if I’m right, and heaven and hell are created here on earth, then death might just be a welcomed release from all the damn stress, anxiety, and of course: fear. Further, to put the icing on the proverbial cake, death is the great equalizer; it will happen to all of us eventually… so get scared for wha?

I’m choosing to ignore my fear in favor of hope. Bravery is being afraid and choosing to act anyway. Let’s be brave. Let’s #feeltheBern. Let’s protect the future by doing what we need to do today to protect it. Let’s vote so the fear mongers of the world don’t get to lead us into another unnecessary war here or abroad. Let’s stand together again in favor of continuing to effect the change we believed in when we voted for Obama. Send me links and ideas to get Shadow to o back to being the obedient little pup-panion that’s I’ve come to depend on. Let’s pay attention to all of the possibilities… Let’s not allow ourselves to become like zombies; mindlessly dragging ourselves around giving in to our baser instincts and our penchant for instant gratification. I know that if we can do these things, we’ll all have a better chance at achieving that “together” thing that we have all claimed to be working towards and that even if I am never satisfied, I might at least be able to get close.

…oh, and let’s Do More & Require Better.

Change…as inevitable as flow of time.

 

Enjoy a little music to get you in the right mindset for this post. I know it helped me write it. Mostly because as I often do, I knew this was coming, but was working to prevent it. But let’s get to the heart of the matter shall we?

 

Things Change

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When you look at your various relationships in life you can usually see a point where things between you an a person shift. They change. Not always for the worse. Not always in unmanageable ways. Your high school friends, college friends, and co-worker friends are often times entirely different. And as you take the hard look back, you know you aren’t the same. Part of that is adolescents’ brains haven’t fully developed into what they will be yet so you have not quite all you, transitional you, and of course complete you. Still though, the ones who stuck around are aware of your changes as well as their own, and are okay with it. Close friends, the ones we walk through our darkest moments with, participate in the give and take of change willingly. And in the end we do the same for them.

In our romantic relationships the same is not always able to be said. If the American divorce stats can be any sort of barometer for the success rate of romantic relationships you have about as good a chance of change being too much for you and your partner as you do it being a lifelong success. And that’s not a bad thing. Because change on the face of it, cannot be a bad thing. It is all about what kind of change is coming. I relearned this lesson back in January at the end of a relationship that was early in the process. So early I’m comfortable saying that it was no one’s fault, but our own collective fault for not noticing it earlier. I say earlier but I really only mean about a month. 2 months, that’s all we pulled off before it was over. Because we weren’t in the places to make it work. 10 years ago, at 23(at the time) I wouldn’t have made the decisions I made as fast. I would have been unhappy and resentful but still dating her. Now, I’ve changed fast enough to just cut it off before we both are over invested.

Change is helpful

10488866_2118314119637_1701766145_nWhen we think about change in the negative, we often judge first. I think often times because we want everything in life to be positive. But that isn’t reality. And it isn’t helpful. Sometimes negative change is more helpful than positive change. How? Think on this. If a friend of yours you notice is drinking way too often, maybe starting to abuse a prescription, or getting too into party drugs and risky activities. You treat it as the problem it is and try to help your friend. That outward change though, is often the expression of a much more internal issue. And as someone who’s helped someone deal with a substance abuse problem, I can tell you that was the hardest part was helping him confront the underlying issue. But that never would have happened if we didn’t see the change that was happening for what it was, a need for help.

Negative changes can also be helpful in a more direct way. Some of the people who are around you are not good for you. Whether that is outright open hostility, or just negative comments behind your back, they are holding you back from who you can be. It isn’t even a selfish act, some people just don’t realize what they are doing effects you as it does. So they need to be gotten away from. And you can realize that as you see their negative change grow. Maybe you keep them around based on who they were. Maybe you don’t agree with the new them, but believe in the old them. If you can bear it talk to them first, but otherwise get out of the crosshairs.

Everyone changes

Just a reminder where we started.

Just a reminder where we started.

Sure everyone changes, you know that. But sometimes it is hard to notice that we are the change that is negative, or the change that needs to be gotten away from. That is all a part of the process of growing. In the modern world we may be losing something from that. What do I mean? Look at the pressure for young people in general (13 to 25) to keep their lives online as much as offline. If you were born in 1990, You have spent every year you could properly encapsulate ideas with social media platforms. Where your life online is just as important as offline. And that has consequences. You don’t lose touch anymore, you basically can’t without actually choosing to. I had the great pleasure recently of reconnecting with someone I hadn’t talked to since I was in elementary school. Let me back up. I ran into a extremely different version of me’s elementary school buddy. Brief words exchanged before we had to get on to what we were doing, but still an old friend none the less. That was followed by facebook friending, following each other on twitter, and stuff like that. Things we never knew were going to happen way back when.

But for most who knew college Matt, much less, high school, middle school, and elementary Matt, they’ve passed out into the ether. That used to be fine with all of us. You carried one or two friends from your old neighborhood into adulthood but most friends came from elsewhere. It was a free pass on the last part of change. The change that happens when you realize you have to stop being around certain people and let the link fade away. Now more than before, that is something that we have to constantly keep stock in. Something that is the genesis of buzz feed articles and memes about getting rid of racist friends or ones who don’t share your political beliefs. But even that change, is good in small doses only. You need people who challenge you, not antagonize you.

I make a point of talking about having ardent atheists, anarchists, communists, socialists, libertarians, tea partiers, democrats, republicans, Jews, Mormons(shoutout to Brett Peterson), and others in my list of friends. Having people of many different ethnic classifications, and certainly the most divisive, people of different musical tastes as friends. The ones I still consider friends are that because they are different, they challenge me, but they aren’t disrespectful or antagonistic towards me. Me as most of them know, is a complex subject. Challenging me as THE Ruthless Wonder, is not the same as me personally. If we disagree, often it is more to do with me here than me they have a drink or catch a flick with. And everyone is fine with that. In your life you need to think about the same. Are the people who are around you challenging you? Because that helps you grow and become better. Or are they antagonizing you? Because that isn’t okay, it doesn’t help you, and friends even in disagreement should help each other change. I leave you to your evaluation.

Finally,

placeholderAnd as you know change comes to things you love. Like US! You know I only give you a taste normally, but we’re going to be giving you a bit more info that usual.

Weekends Don’t Do It Justice writer Reason has and will be on break for very important school related stuff for a while. But while she’s out, I’ve been working on things. And by the time she gets back, her serial stories will be the crown jewel of the new Weekends Don’t Do It Justice Site which is easy to find at www.wkndlife.com

The launch was delayed most due to some internal things that were taking a while. Over there you’ll find music, movie, literary, TV, webseries, and other reviews, as well as some gaming related material material. The casual to our hardcore, I’m really excited about what is coming there. Give us about a week or so and we’ll be up and running over there.

There is more coming, more changes, more evolution, more growth, but as always Words Don’t Do It Justice!

THE Ruthless Wonder

Story Time: Handling Depression, A Personal Note

Some of the first movies I remember watching as a child were Lord of the Flies, The Power of One, Sarafina… and my least favorite of all, Roots. Add to that the Women of Brewster place and The Color Purple, and you might think you have an idea about the direction I’m going with this, but I assure you, you’re probably way off. I’ve been programmed, and for the most part, the programming has worked. I believe in fighting for the greater good and doing for others for the sole purpose of doing the right thing. Unfortunately, my programming has come at a great price; all I can ever see are battles that need fighting, suffering, pain, strife, and all the unpleasantness that this world has to offer. My programming set the framework for depression. In spite of my beliefs and unimaginable capacity for caring, hope, and faith that things can get better, I just don’t actually see it. For me, the world is a sad, scary, painful place to be. In short: I have an uncharacteristically negative outlook for someone who believes so much in the greater good.

Wanna know something you probably won’t believe? When I lived alone, I only watched the evening news on Mondays so I could see the 5-day forecast. Otherwise, it was either entertainment or studying… whichever project would fill my time, build my skills, and lift my spirits. The thought was: There’s only ever bad news.

The day I started writing this–November 21st, 2014–I snapped at my mother. I knew I hurt her, but I just couldn’t let her say anything else. I was just so far from being in a frame of mind where I could parse or compartmentalize information. See, she was about to tell me about yet another serial killer; one more piece of bad news to take root in my mind and add to the already fertile breeding ground for more sadness. I was beyond tired of it, and I really couldn’t take much more. My depression had me in a choke hold. It was as if my mental garden had been overrun with negativity plants choking out the positive ones. All of the nutrients and fuel that could have been used to fertilize whichever remaining positive fruit-bearing plants was going to the negative ones. I’m stuck in a battle with myself; between my true nature, and the nature of my mind.

The worst part of this is that I’m not the only one who has these kinds of thoughts and feelings. While some people might think “at least you aren’t alone.” I wish I was. I wish I was the only one on the planet feeling this way because it would at least mean that other people were happy… or at least not the kind of unhappy that I am. It would mean that there would be one less battle that needed fighting, one fewer group of people that needed defending… one less thing for me to watch other people suffer through. I think that last part is the had part for everyone to deal with.

In the last year and change, I’ve acknowledged my depression publicly and taken steps toward mental health. This process has required discussions with people who have been supportive and understanding, and many more who in fairness might have thought they were being helpful, but in fact were really not.  They did the silver lining thing…

The Power of Empathy! Everyone should watch this and take note 🙂 It’s not so much about sympathizing with people and making them feel better with things or with stories to please their ego. It’s about getting to the core of things with people. Connecting with them, feeling what they are feeling, relating to them and bringing no judgement into the situation at all. Next time you are the ear that listens, provide words that don’t fulfill an ego/mind story and see how much of a difference it makes for the other person. 🙂

Posted by Collective Evolution on Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Something I found to be particularly difficult on my worst days: I couldn’t think of my having survived another day as a good thing. So when she said “Everyone doesn’t have it easy… At least you aren’t homeless or sick” I couldn’t help but wish for sickness to suddenly take over my body and take me off this plane, hopefully in such a way that my family could profit from my demise. In the middle of a conversation I was fantasizing about my own death. The possibility of dying gave me hope. I highly doubt this was anyone who was there for that conversation’s intent, but it became the reason I wouldn’t give up… because giving up would mean not being put in any situations to get a gainful kind of sick or have any unfortunate accidents that would allow my death to accomplish what I couldn’t in life. Because: silver lining.

So what’s this really all about? Its about understanding that depression is a lot of things with a lot of causes and can’t necessarily be Anxiety Realitysolved with a positive thought and a hug. If you’re in a position to help someone who is depressed, the best thing you can do is listen and acknowledge their struggle. Especially if you have experience with depression in your own life, your success story might help, but it might also not. Your frustration with not being able to “fix” your friend pales in comparison to how the  depression is making them feel. If a depressed person trusts you with their struggle, their feelings, their anxiety, their fears, their willingness to end it all, then you have been trusted with that person’s life and how you treat them and everything they have trusted you with is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You’ve been given a great power, and thus a great responsibility. If you aren’t up to the task, then be honest: say that you don’t know what to say, that you wish there was something you could do to help…. say nothing at all and just be there.  You never really know how deep in the darkness a person is, or what that person would be willing to do to solve the problem for themselves. Acknowledge and validate their feelings. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, the feelings are real to them. They don’t need another voice echoing the insecurities already ricocheting off the walls of their mind. I know I’ve never forgotten the hurtful things that were said to me, and I’ve struggled to let go of the hurtful things I imagined. Depression makes reality hard to deal with.

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Do More. Require Better.

The WRATH of Ruthless: On birthdays, I double up

Two that’s right TWO episodes of The Wrath of Ruthless podcast. First up, an episode on Trump, Journalists, Clinton, the nanny state, and film.

 

Second

An episode on Blackface, gay rumors, and identity culture.

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Check out our current Shirt and cases designs. Buy one now while you wait for more. Click the photo to go straight to the store!

Check out our current Shirt and cases designs. Buy one now while you wait for more.
Click the photo to go straight to the store!

Decorum Deficiency Disorder: F*ck Humility

February was a good month, and it’s looking like March is going to be good too. Yes, this is me tooting my own horn… because f*ck humility. Yesterday (which is today for me) Facebook remembered that March 8th is international woman’s day, and that the whole of March is Women’s History Month. Today being the socially acceptable day to talk about this sort of thing, I’m preempting a piece that I’ve already postponed for a month in favor of Blackness, love, relationships, and “race stuff” in favor of  Yep; it was a good month and I’m riding the wave.

They make songs about how much more attractive a girl can be when she doesn’t act like she knows she attractive. It seems to be a widely known fact that humility is a desirable trait in a woman. People talk about humility like it’s a virtue worth practicing. Humble people are nice to be around because they don’t make you feel like less than you are, other than guilty for not seeming as humble as they are. Let’s take a deeper look…

Humility defined

Humble:
adjective, humbler, humblest.
1. not proud or arrogant; modest: to be humble although successful.
2. having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.In the presence of so many world-famous writers I felt very humble.
3. low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.; lowly: of humble origin; a humble home.
4. courteously respectful: In my humble opinion you are Humble definitionwrong
5. low in height, level, etc.; small in size: a humble member of the galaxy.
verb (used with object), humbled, humbling.
6. to lower in condition, importance, or dignity; abase.
7. to destroy the independence, power, or will of.
8. to make meek

When I look at the definition of humility, it’s no wonder that I’ve ever understood why any sane person would consider humility a good characteristic to emulate. You mean to tell me that even when someone is clearly drenched in awesomeness, they’re supposed to act like they aren’t? And to what end? As if anyone every really likes watching someone acting like they’re less awesome than they are. Here’s an example: Have you ever talked to someone who you think has it all (great life, family, career, finances, home, things, etc.) and hear them talking shit about their life as if you didn’t just see them tip the valet with a 50 dollar bill. Sure, they’re being humble… but their humility seems more like an insult than an equalizer.

You know what they call a confident Woman? A bitch. You know what they call a confident man? A leader. As far as I can tell the idea of humility is one of those things that has only truly served rich men. Disclaimer: I’m not saying that there aren’t any difficulties that come with not being humble or that all seemingly confident men…. you know what, fuck this disclaimer shit too. If you don’t know that there are levels and layers to this and that I’m primarily addressing one aspect of it here because this would end up being a 5 hour dissertation on life and how much it sucks… then stop reading and go back to watching kitten videos on YouTube; This is not meant for you.

Certificate of HumilityAnyway, it seems to me that back when they were writing the so-called holy books, they decided that the best way to keep people in line; to keep people in their places was to convince them that vows of poverty and acts of humility were among the highest forms of piety. In doing so, they could demand levels of obedience and unquestioned subservience that they probably couldn’t have gotten otherwise. Further, they depicted women as inherently unclean and thus even more susceptible to sin and temptation of the flesh, they suggested even stricter penalties and even higher standards piety. Of course I could say that this is all just a theory, but unfortunately, history supports my thesis.

Since our expectations of people, and–for the purpose of this piece–women in particular, hasn’t evolved to fit the construct of modern society, we’re left with a relatively useless standard of humility that mostly serves as another way to diminish women’s willingness to require things like equal rights, respect, and higher pay. We might make better students, we might work harder and be better team players, but having been programmed to be humble, we’re less likely to demand things like raises or interfere when men are making decisions that are counterproductive or inefficient.

So fuck humility. I say claim your awesomeness. I remember back when I was getting my real estate license. I took the class and the test with a then romantic interest. He didn’t think studying or reviewing notes was a valuable use of his time. I remember how angry he got with me when he didn’t pass. Not with the test, not the instructors, but with me. I didn’t even get to celebrate my success because it might further damage his fragile ego. Almost 10 years later and I still kick myself over it. I should have celebrated. I should have focused on my success instead of trying to make him feel better about his failure. It didn’t stop him from resenting me. It didn’t make him appreciate my effort or make him try harder to succeed. Ego stroking doesn’t accomplish anything other than inflating egos that should be left to their own devices. If the only way for one person to feel good about themselves is for you “to lower [yourself] in condition, importance, or dignity” then that isn’t someone you should keep in your life. Your goal should be to surround yourself with people who encourage you to Do More & Require Better… and then celebrate your successes. Fuck Humility. 

Story Time: Reign meets WDDIJ

Bloody JusticeIt feels like a life time has passed, but it’s only been 2 years. Geek Illuminati was barely 2 months old and I was just discovering my social media voice. I had just participated in my first pod cast, and I have to admit I was feeling pretty damned pumped about it… but I wasn’t ready to take a full step out of my shell. Not long after, there it was: the post that would invariably change my life forever. The Ruthless Wonder posted an open invitation to join him here at WDDIJ. It took e about a week to muster up the courage. “Is it too late to join? I mean, are you still looking for writers?” I don’t remember what he said, but he sent me to check out the site and read up on some of the content before giving me any information. I clicked through the side links, the Glossary, the Justice League… and then I read Ruthless Grab Bag: Open Letters and Women. Part one and just knew that I needed to add my perspective to what seemed like a gathering of sad bitter men… Little did I know that I needed them much more. WDDIJ, our readers, the writers, our pod cast guests and regulars have all contributed to making Reign the real me, and who I used to think I was the alter ego.

the R Revolution's ReignThank you WDDIJ for letting my Words Do some Justice. To The Ruthless Wonder, The Boss, The Partner, The Man who stared it all; thanks for giving me, well, Us, a place to vent. And of course I have to thank you, our readers for sticking with us for all these years. If not for you, we’d basically just be talking to ourselves, and as engaging a that might be, its better when you come around. You got us to 90,000 visitors and 300,000 views, and then you told some friends and took us over that milestone, and we look forward to meeting you in The Justice League where we always
Do More & Require Better.

Peace & Blessings.
Namaste.