Posted in Uncategorized, Writing

The Price of Gentrification

The leaves glittered a pretty gold green color, the wind ruffling them gently in the breeze. Blue skies and fluffy white clouds and serene sidewalks and dark green lamp posts and the occasional wooden bench dotted the landscape punctuated occasionally by a eggplant colored trashcan and a black car.

Perfectly landscaped shrubs shielded an impressive wooden fence guarding an impressive building of modern architecture, all red and grey and covered in various angles and degrees. Very very edgy. Modern. Definitely modern.

Every plant and shrub and piece of cement was immaculate and like new. The place was perfect. Too perfect. You almost looked for the error, for the mistake, for the hole. The red and grey had orange panels between, but you can tell it was planned, it was no accident.  There was no graffiti, no broken pavement.

It was like an oversized doll house. It didn’t look like it had been used. It was too new. You almost expected it to have that new car smell. Kind of a weird rubber tire smell, the kind that says there is something plastic and shiny here that hasn’t been corrupted by human stink yet.

Totally mechanical, and unused. But the air was fresh, with a hint of lavender in the air.  The windows were all various sizes and different heights. It was like the building was trying too hard to be edgy. It had accomplished that all ready, yet it was still trying to one up itself.

Why? What for? What was the purpose for it? What need or use did this random patchwork angled thing assist in? Did this color scheme somehow make the building more efficient? Was it more economical to heat because of it?

This building was built by and for the city, an administrative building created with no expense spared to look as glaringly new and different as possible. It would not settle and become one with the buildings around it, oh no, it was an individual.

Housing for the homeless was torn down and moved and gotten rid of so this beautiful monstrosity could squat over the entire block, housing no one, only fitting worker bees inside a useful building with a flamboyance that was beyond useful or necessary. The bill of course being footed by the people and for the people, because they deserve the best, except for those homeless sods, of course they should just leave. They are no longer welcome here in our pretty perfect town.

No more emergency shelter for them, the city needed a sharply angled giant building plus plaza to take up the entire area, this was more important, and the building showed it. It looked important and impressive. It was large, and expensive. And there would be no beds in there. Lots of rooms, but no beds. Lots of benches too. And trees. And the sun was shining with blue sky and fluffy clouds.

And everyone could see the impressive modern building in all its multicolored glory, no remnant of the sad apartment complex that used to be there. All the living and breathing and dying and eating, all that living moved somewhere, anywhere else. Now, this looked unused, like new, there would be working here but no living, no dying, no eating. Just working.

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Posted in Uncategorized

A Tale of The Loss of Various Stuff And Brick-A-Brack-it-A

Now I would like to write some fiction as it has been awhile. I had to upgrade my laptop to Windows 10 from Vista because of my silly Hearthstone addiction, yes, I am a nerd, finally able to admit it all these years later, and Blizzard was not going to let me keep playing if I didn’t upgrade. I had been sitting on this windows 10 for awhile, I bought it originally for my desktop which still needs a processor.

More evidence of my nerd-dom right there, I enjoy  putting pc’s together. I also love my cat, even though she sat on my processor which I stupidly left out, and bent the pins. I tried to straighten it and ended up breaking them off. So, to make a long story longer, I am full of contradictions. I love my cat and my computer. I love writing, but find it hard at times to get motivated.

I lost a lot of items when I moved, and found another item that didn’t make it. My Microsoft Office disc. I re-downloaded scrivener, and will have to rebuy Office in the future. It costs too much to buy it now, so now it will force me to learn scrivener which looks like a lot of fun. Trying to find the upside in losing software that will cost over a hundred dollars to replace.

The other items I lost were some irreplaceable ones and some I can re-buy. My fitness cd’s, my rings, including a one of a kind genuine amethyst ring which the jeweler destroyed the mold he used to make it afterwards, Cowboy Bebop dvd collection, and my tassel from graduating high school and community college, and my community college ring. A little crystal vase from my now deceased Grandma was also in that box.

I was grateful for the help at the time, but also exhausted and stressed out. It’s Over Now, as the Alice In Chains song goes, but, every time I think I’m past it, I ran across another thing I need that I don’t have.

It has been frustrating but I have learned some valuable lessons. One obvious one is that stuff is just stuff. The vase isn’t my Grandma. I still graduated even though I don’t have the tassel to prove it. I do have the diploma. Another obvious rule, which if I had been sane I would have known and should have known better, never let people who you know have a high probability of having a meth addiction into your house. They will rob you blind every time.

They were taking stuff from one box and adding it to anther, I was constantly telling them no, I am keeping that box. While I was loading two boxes, I left the third at the top of the stairs, when I came back it was gone. I really thought, perhaps I was mistaken and there were only two boxes. I was so tired.

Nope, they hauled it off when I was gone for ten seconds. So yeah, that was stupid of me. And, since I let them in it is a she said she said situation. I did let them keep a lot of stuff, so, I have no way of proving that they stole anything.

I decided to chalk it up as a lesson learned. Not to get invested too much in material things, and to make my peace with the loss. And, you never make good decisions when under a lot of stress. You need time to think and process.

If anyone is rushing you into something, it is probably not to your benefit. If anyone offers to help with nothing in return, sometimes, there is an ulterior motive. The world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Occasionally, there is a glimmer. But most of the time, there is something else at work. I wish that wasn’t the case, but in my experience, most of the time there is a cost, a hidden cost, but a cost nonetheless. Make sure you are willing to pay it. There is no free lunch, as they say.

 

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing

About Time And That One Guy Who Sailed in 1492…

I have the day off thanks to Columbus. Probably the only job I’ve ever had that gave me Columbus day off. It isn’t much of a holiday here. Controversial to some, and to others it is a “bank holiday,” or an excuse for some places to close. We have no statues in my town, and do no parades here. I worked for a bank here and I always had to work on Columbus day. So, it is a quasi holiday, it is there, but it isn’t really celebrated, at least not much here.

I realize there are places that do, like New York has a parade, and I read it is a big deal in Puerto Rico. I have Italian heritage. I do not feel especially threatened if they get rid of this holiday. Columbus was born in Italy, he was Italian, but he served Spain, and died in Spain.

He also never set foot on the continent. So, his “discovery of America” if you discount that he thought he found a short cut to India, and that the Vikings as well as the indigenous people were here before him, just never really rang true.

However, I have also read a lot of articles today attributing genocide and all the native populations being decimated by disease and everything that came after Columbus being attributed to him.

The deaths of the Taino people on Hispaniola can be laid at his door. I think it is a stretch to add all the rest to him. He couldn’t have foreseen the small pox epidemic that decimated the north American tribes. He didn’t even set foot here, remember? He thought he was in India the whole time. He would have had no way of knowing the far reaching repercussions his “discovery” would have, and there is no sane way to blame him for all the atrocities that would come later.

He was a guy with three ships who underestimated the size of the world, and shared the mentality of his time that “savages” were lesser men. We can think of that in horror now, but in his day it was quite normal.

Rudyard Kipling of “Just so Stories”  and the “Jungle Book” fame had some writings describing ethnic people in a kind of racist or patronizing way. I still love some of these stories, although his British Imperialism now colors them all in a tainted sort of way. And it was this view of superiority, that Europeans had a god given right to govern the lesser peoples and guide them to being civilized that is so hard to stomach now.

This was a time where people looked to the church for answers, not science. And, it was a debate whether these people had souls or not,  because they weren’t mentioned in the Bible. It was a different time, and to say Columbus and his men were ignorant would be obvious. They knew nothing about these lands, or their people, and made a lot of assumptions. Of course, not knowing anything about germs, and how disease and immune systems work, they would have no idea that they were spreading disease just by coming there.

You cannot assume 21st century morality and science and put it on a person of another era. It is like expecting a cave man to know how to drive a car. People should be examined in context with their time, as the culture they are in will of course, naturally affect their thinking and how they act toward others.

In our current time, we act differently. There is an island, off the coast of India that has an indigenous tribe that has not been directly interacted with except for a handful of times. They want to be left alone and attack on site and the government of India has forbade anyone from going to the island or even within a certain amount of feet of it.

Besides respecting the islanders desire to be left alone, it was also indicated that the decision took into account that any interactions could cause disease and a ravaging of the population, also the language barrier and hostility.

A couple fisherman were killed and dismembered because they drifted too near the island, so the safety of not only the inhabitants but also of the outsiders had to be considered.

Instead of trying to civilize or bring these people to Jesus, it was decided that it was best to just leave them alone. I feel that some people seem to think Columbus could have or should have been capable of making a decision like that without the necessary information that the modern government of India has currently.

This is in fact preposterous. You can’t assume someone from that era can understand how disease works. In addition, the religious culture of the period, you have to bring people to Jesus or they die in eternal torment. It was your duty as a Christian to bring them to Christ if possible. As far as slavery is concerned, there was some that thought the inhabitants did not have souls, so enslaving them was okay.

The Catholic church eventually decided they did indeed have souls and asked the Spanish King to not treat the people harshly and to bring them to Christ.

However, this was decided after Columbus’s voyages and his crew did not always obey him when he implored them to not be too harsh, and it was apparent that none of these native people’s had weapons or a way to protect themselves from the invaders.  Unfortunately, as often happens, the strong destroy the weak.

The Europeans of this age were just as savage if not more so than the islanders.  The islanders were just living their lives and did not ask for any of this.  I feel their pain does deserve to be recognized, and I think our society still has much to learn.

The British and the United States that came after treated its native peoples horribly. But, I cannot realistically lay that at Columbus’ door. Sure, this all followed his voyage, but, realistically, there is just no way that he could have foreseen all of this. That is a lot of historical anguish to lay at one man’s door. Columbus wasn’t Hitler. He wasn’t even Mussolini.

He was kind of a Charles Lindbergh of his day. By the way, Lindbergh said some awful things about Jewish people. People can do amazing things, and still be jerks. People can do awful things, and still be celebrated for the things they did right.

Should Columbus be celebrated? I am not sure. He did travel a long way in three small ships. I probably couldn’t have done that. In fact, I know I couldn’t back then, being a  woman.  But, that is something. If he hadn’t stumbled onto the islands, someone eventually would have. The Europeans would have landed eventually, bringing their diseases with them. Maybe the name would have been different.

Posted in Uncategorized

Happy Birthday to Myself, GRRM, and Sophia Loren; And a Missed Opportunity Turns into a Lesson Learned

I  have always liked that my birthday is the same as Mr. Martin’s as his books have inspired me since the late nineties, long before the HBO series came about. In fact, for a long long time I kept an email of him basically telling me off.

I volunteered at an E zine, and somehow my Editor in chief got GRRM to agree to an interview, and he was my favorite author at the time, and I was trying to make it perfect. I researched him thoroughly, had a list of questions and topics. It was a phone interview.

I thought I was ready, and this was back before cell phones were everywhere, so I was going to use my landline, and I forgot I had long distance blocked to save me from spending money where I shouldn’t.

I started to panic when the time came for the interview, and I couldn’t get through. I completely forgot I had the line blocked. So, Mr. Martin emailed me reminding me that his time was precious, and that I wasted an hour of his life that he spent waiting in his office, and I didn’t get another chance.

I felt like an idiot, but I also was in awe because he was like a rock star to me. I for a long time had GRRM listed as a contact in my email. Finally, I deleted it.

It was an AOL account, so I doubt it is still active now that he is insanely famous. I know a little free E zine would not be able to secure an interview today, and if you read this Scott, I am still amazed you got it back then. It was still an important non event in my life, that I will never forget.

I had an awesome list of questions too. The interview that never happened will be the most important event that didn’t happen to me in my life. It taught me a valuable lesson. You can never be too prepared. If you think you are, check again. And re -check. And double check. Also, your time is valuable, whether you are a famous author or someone writing on the side. Everyone’s time is valuable. And, it wasn’t a waste. I did learn something from it.

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

Timed Write — First Thing that Comes to Mind

She walked down the street quietly, hands embedded into the pockets of an overly large beige rain coat. A piece of garbage blew past dancing along the street to some silent tune while the occasional rain puddle stood showing the sky in its natural mirror.

She sighed. Perhaps she just wanted to hear more than the occasional dripping of droplets from rooftops trying to hurry to the ground in their own wet way.

Sometimes she liked to hear her own voice, it almost sounded like it was coming from some other person. Her voice wasn’t how she imagined it would sound like in her head. It was higher, tinnier, distant. Like an echo of what she assumed was her voice.

She was young, wearing a maroon scarf and a small black hat askew. She had her own fashion sense, it was a bit nonsensical. Part retro part comfort, part a little bit detective movie, and a little bit couch potato. She wasn’t sure who she was yet, or who she would become and the impression she gave was of a whimsical and confused teen who wasn’t sure she liked herself all that much.

She knew she liked the rain. It was soothing when it hit her hat and her coat, it made a satisfying plop sound. It made its own music, a rhythmic percussion of sounds that set a tempo for action or just a lengthy walk.

She loved to walk. But, for some unknown reason, when the rain stopped something about the world seemed dark and gloomy. The music slowed down, and everything just sat wet and bland. Everything was just there, remaining around concrete and water.

The clouds were still overhead promising a return of rain in the near future. But in the meantime she was left walking down a largely deserted street wondering if the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse would resemble this.

Everything and everyone needs water, and rain is the form it often comes from. Rain was life, just like sunlight was. A plant would die without water just like it would without light. The air smelled different after a good rain.

The humidity messed with her hair more than her hat did, and she would stop to readjust a strand that somehow got into her face. It was a constant battle between her hat and her hair and her glasses. There was never a real victor, much like the rain or the sun, hair always came back.

Occasionally she would yank a particular strand out and examine the root of it, before tossing it. It would grow back. She guessed that was okay, after all, she didn’t want to be bald. Then again, since she liked to wear hats, perhaps that didn’t matter very much to her. Hair was kind of a symbol of vitality or health though.

People looked at a girl funny without hair. Everyone would probably make insane assumptions like cancer, or some terminal illness if she lost all her hair. Perhaps it is better to have it, so she can blend into the surroundings better. She didn’t want to attract too much attention. she didn’t want any more stares than she occasionally got for the hats she would wear.

A little attention was nice, a lot of attention was scary. She didn’t want stares, a glance was okay, but a stare would be altogether different. She wanted to be different, but not necessarily a freak.

It was a delicate balance that she might not ever perfect. But she was learning how to be herself and sometimes mistakes would be made.

Posted in Life, Uncategorized, Writing

Time to Do Some Writing….

My site is back and hopefully here to stay. I plan on doing a lot of writing, and hopefully it will be just what I need to elevate my craft. Thank you all for your patience while the site was in hiatus. I appreciate any and all follows and I do follow back as a common courtesy.

I took this week off from work and it was nice not having to worry about getting up early and to have an open schedule. I do feel for those out there that make their own schedules though. It was at times hard to get motivated. I wasted some time, but that was okay.

I kind of knew that was going to happen. It is like the kid who isn’t allowed to eat candy going to a friend’s house and an open candy dish is right there. Time has been like that for me. I never have enough of it it seems, and when I do I squander it like a lottery winner does their winnings.

I am trying not to be too hard on myself. But at the same time, we never know how much time we are allotted in this life. So, it is imperative to make it count.

With that in mind, be expecting some timed writes, writing prompts, and short stories of surprise and wonder coming your way. And, again, thank you. Your encouragement and inspiration is what keeps me posting.

Sincerely,

JennRae.

Posted in Uncategorized

I Know Now The Purpose

Reblogging so that more can see this beautiful idea.

Crowing Love Publications

When I wrote Crowing Love, I had no idea what purpose I intended. My grandma had just passed, and I worked at a Non-Profit agency. This is where I met Gabriel.

Our paths had crossed a few times in life. She sang and played music in a band, I also sang and played music in a band. We were both single mothers, raising our children and trying to keep an artistic dream alive. She was an advocate for struggling young women, and so was I. At one point, one of her roommates was my co-worker and she would come into the salon I worked at and visit. I was intimidated by this beautiful woman, and felt like we should have been friends long ago.  The Non-Profit was filled with the right women, the women who wanted to make a difference. From previous blog posts, you know that my advocacy did…

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Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

The Problem —A Character Study

The nightmare was about over when she laid the test face down at the front of the room, shuffling out the door shouldering a book bag that was lighter than it should have been. She knew she was failing geometry. Math was not her specialty. She cared less about school every year, as she felt her soul slipping away slowly, painfully, drifting away from its purpose.

Nothing seemed real, or important. She would watch the news at night talking about possible nuclear war, and people starving in some country across the world with the deep cynicism of one far removed from it all. She imagined the bomb going off and not having to explain to her parents her failure in geometry. It almost would be a relief, if only it was painless, and quick.

A post nuclear world seemed strangely interesting and a world that she would want to explore in a video game, or a comic book, or even a movie. In reality, perhaps not. I’m sure a resident of Nagasaki during World War II would probably love to switch with her and have a failing grade instead of all the radiation and cancer and sudden death.

What was it a friend of hers always said? First World Problems. Yeah, it makes everyone who complains about slow internet, or waiting in line to buy new shoes feel like a jerk. Some big eyed waif in some third world country someplace was doing hard labor without shoes, and here she was in ‘Ross Dress For Less’ cursing at a long wait while she buys a pair of zebra striped patent leather heels.

First world problems, indeed. Meanwhile, she would go to school, go to bed, and wake up to go to school while both her parents worked during the day and were tired in the evening. She had a younger brother that had some special issues that seemed to take their time, and she felt like an afterthought. Someone that was background noise. Until she screwed up, but that wasn’t the kind of attention she wanted. She would rather be background noise.

She had saved up for those zebra striped heels from babysitting a cousin who was in that age bracket where they are too old to be a baby but too young for real school.

It was hard work because the little guy had a ton of energy and could completely destroy a room in a matter of minutes.  Plus, he put everything in his mouth, so she had to watch him carefully. Balancing that with school work and studying was hard.

School used to be easy for her, but this year she felt suddenly stupid. She couldn’t concentrate and found herself slipping from the room while the teacher’s voice became a constant drone like a hive of bees. She felt so incredibly tired.

Finally, her teacher cornered her the next day as she was attempting to sneak out. “Natalie, wait a moment will you? I want to speak to you.” She gulped and sat at the nearest desk watching the others file out the door, some looking at her blankly, most not even looking at her. She had become invisible to most.

“Okay, come here my dear, just sit down.” Mrs. Grimble got up and shut the door after the last student had left, leaving the room to just Natalie and herself. “Okay,  you need to tell me what is going on with you. I see you struggling. Coming in late, not turning in homework. I can see it in your face. Is everything all right at home?”

“This is about the test, isn’t it?” She said tiredly.

Mrs. Grimble looked her in the eye, and pulled out her test from a drawer, handing it out to her.

“I think it is more than that. I looked at your records from last year, and I can see a drastic difference in your work. I hope you know I want what is best for you, and I hope you feel you can trust me. I just want to help you.”

Natalie looked down at the desk, and then eyed the wall clock ticking away. “I think I will be late for my next class, Mrs. Grimble.”

“I talked to your other teachers. We do compare notes on occasion. And, it is the same story. There is something going on. We can see it. You just aren’t really present in class. Would you like to speak with the counselor? Would that be helpful?”

“I do not know what’s wrong. I guess I feel like I have to be perfect all the time. And, no one likes me. I feel stupid this year. I just can’t think. I am just so tired. I just want to sleep and not wake up.”

Mrs. Grimble looked horrified, and concerned all at once. Natalie wanted to shove her desk over and scatter all the pens and pencils onto the floor. She suddenly felt anger toward her for all the fake sympathy, the pity.

She didn’t want sympathy, or pity. She was all alone, and everyone seemed false and fake. She didn’t trust Mrs. Grimble. She didn’t trust anyone. She did have a secret, but she wouldn’t share it here, not with anyone at the school.

“I think dear, that we should schedule you with an appointment, to see Mrs. Fenton. It can’t hurt, right?”

“You want me to reassure you, Mrs. Grimble? Or is this your way of asking my permission?” Mrs. Grimble was jotting something down on a pink slip and she slid it across the desk toward Natalie.

“Are you going to tell my parents? I don’t want them to be bothered with this.”

“Don’t you think they should know that something is bothering you?”

Natalie looked at the slip in front of her, not reaching out to take it.

“It would just make them worry about me. I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want them to fret or worry about me. They have their hands full dealing with Brian.”

“How is your brother doing, Natalie?”

“As good as can be expected for someone who is slowly dying. He takes all their time when they aren’t working, and they worry over him, and sometimes they get hopeful. Then other times things are bleak. I am tired of the roller coaster at this point. I just wish a miracle would happen, or it would be over. Sometimes I hate him. Isn’t that terrible? I am a horrible person aren’t I?”

“No, dear. You have a lot on your shoulders right now. Maybe you should just take a leave from school. It would be hard to catch up, but I can talk to the principle and the counselor, and we can explain the situation…”

“No, I don’t want to take a leave. I just want things to be easy again. I don’t want to be stuck in the house watching my brother all the time. Watching him slowly get worse. Just watching. I’d rather be bored out of my mind here.”

“Natalie, you want to graduate with your class, right?”

She said nothing. Mrs. Grimble pushed the paper a little closer to Natalie. “Take it. Go to Mrs. Fenton. It can’t hurt.”

Natalie reluctantly took it, and lifted her bag and didn’t say another word. Mrs. Grimble watched her leave and began composing an email on her computer.

 

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Life, Uncategorized, Writing

The Secret

“What is life? Why are we here? I mean, what’s it all for anyhow?” The curious red head asked  her Uncle in all seriousness, her eyes squinting to avoid the glare of the campfire as the flames toyed  with each other in a never ending battle for supremacy. He laughed a deep, carefree laugh. She asked so many questions that he shook his head after awhile. She was a born inquisitor, and was tireless in her examinations. She wouldn’t quit, even after the rest of the children grew tired and went to sleep in their tents.

“Life,” began her Uncle choosing his words slowly, “is complicated. It can’t really be summed up in one word, nor can I explain it in a one night. It is one of those things that we do year after year. We search for the why’s and the what for’s. It wouldn’t be any fun if we started with all the answers, would it?”

She looked solemn a moment, her face puzzled, the words settling into the niches of her young brain. “Well, what if I want all the answers?” Her Uncle shook his head again, and chuckled. “Well, one of the first things you’ve got to learn, and this is a big secret. In fact, come closer.” He motioned with his hand gently for her to crane her head as near to him as she could conspiratorially.

“The secret?” She whispered hopefully when she deemed she was close enough. The fire warmed them both, and the crackling of the wood was soothing in its own way.

“Awh, yes, the secret. First, you must promise me something, then I will share the secret with you.” The red head gave a frown, unsure of the new conditions of this secret.

“All right, I promise.”

“Well, then. You promise? You promise this will be the last question tonight? Your Uncle is getting tired, and must get some sleep, too.”

She frowned, she didn’t like this promise, but since she had all ready agreed, she could do nothing but nod. “The secret is…,” he began again, watching her face light up in anticipation, “No one has all the answers, and the world doesn’t give you what you want, but dishes out what it has.”

“That can’t be the secret!” she shouted. Her Uncle laughed again.

“See? Not everything is as you would want it. Better to discover this now, then later. And, since you promised, you must go to bed. And, I can get some sleep.”

“But I didn’t promise to go to bed!” She cried, horrified at the thought.

“Well, I am tired, and I can’t stay up to watch you, so you must sleep like the others. Your mother is all ready asleep. It is only fair that I get to sleep too.”

She grudgingly agreed, and walked slowly to her tent with her little face turned toward the ground in disappointment. Her Uncle watched her in silence, as the fire started to die down. He absently added one more log, thinking. Who would be there to answer his questions when the time came? He got up stiffly, and made his way to his tent, contemplating life and its meaning.