A Thing About Which I Do Not Wish To Write

And yet, here I am. This is partly against my will and partly because I do not have a will.

What do you call someone who simultaneously depletes you of emotional wherewithal, fortitude, resolve, and intellect, whilst also raising your ire and passion? Surely, this person must be called your torturer.

The device of said torture is your heart; It is a device from which there is no escape. All they must do is squeeze a little and you are singing like a canary. No secret is safe–you reveal all.

It seems unfair that someone should have that much control over something so intimate to you. It beats within your chest, but answers their call.

“Traitor,” you say to your heart, as you hope it continues beating all the same.

I do not wish to write about this, but–dammit–what else is a girl to do?

Our Past Is Our Future

We learn history–it has been said–so we do not repeat our past mistakes. Given our current circumstances, I wonder if this is true. Are we not a species that repeats mistakes frequently? Do we not experience consequences of a particular action, and then take that same course of action again?

I think about all of the times in my life I’ve done the same stupid thing more than once. For example, the other day I again purchased something from Instagram, even though I told myself that I would never buy another piece of crap from Instagram again. I knew better. Even my bank knew better because–and this is embarrassingly true–my bank denied the first transaction. I had to go into my bank account to approve the use of my card and then go back to the scam website to checkout again.

My past mistake was ordering a laptop tray on Instagram. When I received a blanket email about the shipping delays from the manufacturer that included everyone who had ordered the same product, I knew something was wrong. When I received a defective product that I could neither return nor receive refund for, I thought to myself, “Now you know never to buy anything on Instagram. They don’t properly vet their advertisers.”

I learned with the first mistake to read the comments, which reveal quite a bit about the nature of the business associated with the ad. Yet when presented with more ads (this time for clothing), I skipped reading the comments, ignored my bank’s warnings, and purchased more junk. When I went back to read the comments on the ad post, I could have kicked myself a thousand times over. Again–AGAIN? After everything? I do this to myself again?

This human trait goes beyond gullible and enters the realm of ignorance–at its root, meaning to refuse to consider or to ignore. I ignored my past experience–I did not forget it–and ended up repeating my past mistake. Perhaps this time the lesson will stick and I will not heap infinite shame upon my head with another such transgression, but maybe my future self will expect a different result. It’s possible that my future self is already in the process of disappointing me again. Nevertheless, this whole experience coupled with the books I’ve been reading got me to thinking about what’s going on in our nation today.

In terms of recent national mistakes, we’re not really covering new ground as a society. We’re still mired in the self-same muck of our forebears and repeating their same argue-but-do-nothing strategies that never worked before. In fact, if you could draw a line, from our current issues to our past issues, you’d find that line to be unerringly straight. Any person with any degree of motility would be able to connect the dots quite easily.

Take, as recent examples, the Black Lives Matter movement, the issue of police brutality and corruption, and the response to these issues along an incredibly divisive political line. Everything that’s being done now, from the protests to the reactions of the pundits, from the rantings of your neighbor next door to the rantings of the President, have all been done before. It’s almost like we’re following the directions off the back of a Shampoo bottle ad infinitum: Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat.

As King Solomon wrote, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

Ecclesiastes 1:9

Are we doing this because we didn’t learn our history? This seems to be a weak argument for our current plight. We certainly know our past or we have learned something of it. Either way, we can’t claim complete lack of knowledge of it. If I were more superstitious, I might believe we were cursed to always repeat our past mistakes for failing to make right the incredible wrong committed at the beginning–in like a Sci-Fi Horror version of Groundhog Day.

But I’m not. Instead, I think we refuse to consider a better way because we are comforted by the familiar pattern of our mediocrity of do nothing, wait and see. Or worst, our actions and reactions are inextricable from our blood: We are forever tied to the mistakes of our past through our DNA, which indefinitely passes on the gene of wrongdoing, from one generation to the next–maybe a curse after all. I don’t really know.

What I do know is that I don’t foresee any difference in our future from that of our past.

A Sorta Book Review: The Water Dancer

I have spent these last two days completely enveloped in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Water Dancer. I started reading it yesterday morning and finished it tonight. It’s left me with such a feeling–a feeling I’ve only had three other times after finishing a book–that I wanted to put it down in words before the feeling left me again.

To say I read the book would be misleading. Instead, it would be more accurate to say that the Book transported me. It took me out of my body and put me in Virginia. When I finished the last sentence and looked up, I realized that I was not in Virginia but in California, and I tell you it is quite a bit maddening to not be where you just were.

I have been a Conductor; I have been touched by the lives and stories of people who lived long ago or who were merely the images inside the mind of a man from my time. Whether the former or the latter, I cannot tell. They felt as real to me as my own family and friends. To call them characters would be to diminish their place in my heart.

Among all the emotions stirred up in me, the most overwhelming was nostalgia–the kind of nostalgia you can only feel after you have achieved some great age or experiences and memories of times long past and people long gone. This story felt like a memory I was having of my own time spent on a Virginia plantation. I have grown up in Virginia and I could taste the weather and see the moon as Mr. Coates described it. I remember that Virginia moon (I see it in my dreams).

When a story has done this to you, you are no longer the same. You have lived another life and been another person. You have gone beyond empathy and now remember what it is like to be a man named Hiram. You recall vividly your experiences of having everything ripped away from you and of the mark it left on your young soul. You weep for your torn heart. You weep again because the story has ended and you have been pulled back into your body.

The saddest part for me is not knowing when I will chance upon another book with this magnitude of power over storytelling. I ache to be Conducted again, but understand that it may be many years before the next Book finds me. It’s been eight whole years since the last one.

Mr. Coates is a masterful writer and this story is worthy of multiple readings. My only regret is not having took longer to read it; It ended far too soon.

Whatever shall I read next? Sigh.


“Child,” her voice follows me, “Do as you’re told.”

“Yes, mama.” I reply. I put down my book and go outside. I stare at the sky, blank in its blue expanse–no birds, no clouds, no sun, no stars. There’s only atmosphere for as far as the eye can see. There’s nothing between the ground and the blackness of space.

I feel my heart tick against my sternum, a staccato, as my breath quickens. Everything feels far away and too close. My feet tilt over my head and back down again, though I haven’t moved.

I close my eyes and place my hand against the sturdy brick of our home. I try to keep my feet steady, but everything is spinning around me. A piercing tone fills my ears until all other noises are drowned out. Vaguely, I sense a tear drop off the bottom of my chin.

When I open my eyes, I’m lying on the floor inside our door. Mama’s face is peering above mine and her mouth is forming words.

It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.

On Modesty

A few days ago, I clicked on a YouTube ad for a video by Classically Abby. The video was about being newly married or a 10-things-you-should-know-before-getting-married vlog. I was intrigued because, based on this woman’s youth, I had the feeling she couldn’t have been married for very long. What type of woman would give advice with visibly little matrimonial experience under her belt?

The video didn’t disappoint. The woman–with A-game eyebrows I might add–gave the most basic advice, which you could easily already know after being roommates with anyone for a year. Whilst the advice wasn’t horrible, it also wasn’t enriching, nuanced, or invigorating. Regardless, I couldn’t help but delve deeper into Classically Abby’s channel. The next video I watched was about dressing modestly.

Aside: I am pretty sure curiosity is both one of my strengths and one of my weaknesses.

Well, I watched the full video and then amused myself by also reading the comments. People of the Internet are equal parts inane, cruel, compassionate, and hilarious. The comments section never disappoints. Of course, all of this got me to thinking about modesty.

As Classically Abby explains in her video, women must dress modestly because–and here I’m paraphrasing–you don’t want men to be distracted by your body; If you are scantily clad, the men folk will only see you for your body and not for your other merits. Men are visual creatures, according to Classically Abby, and they cannot be blamed if, upon seeing your cleavage, they discount you as an intelligent human being and objectify you.

This is an extremely old and tired–and frankly, disproved and boring–argument. Conservative women should really find a new playbook. I thought to myself that I could spend time exposing the logical fallacies here, which several women took time to do in the comments, or I could instead explore what is modesty. I find the latter far more interesting because understanding what modesty is might better inform our understanding of what it means to dress modestly.

The definition of modesty starts with the word moderation, which means avoiding extreme behaviors or to be calm and temperate (mild). Modesty is also defined as neither bold nor self-assertive, as being unpretentious. The etymology of the word is moderate, but more at the word measured (taken from the Latin modus). It’s important to understand the definition of words before you can begin to use them to address or redress others.

With this definition of modesty, in particular its etymology, we might begin to grasp what might be meant by dressing modestly. Because at the heart of the definition is the word measured, we can exclude haute couture from being modest, since anything created by excess or expense cannot be modest. But what else might we exclude from being modest now that we know what the definition is?

Let’s think about how our clothes are designed and made these days. Most of what we buy is not made at home anymore nor by seamstresses in the United States. We tend to buy off-the-shelf fashion, which is imported mainly from China, but also from India and Mexico. Are these all made moderately without excess simply because we can purchase them for $13 at Walmart?

From the films and documentaries exposing this part of our fashion industry, especially from the revelations about the warehouses in China, where young girls are propping their eyes open with clothespins to work through the 15th hour of their 18-hour shift, we could ascertain that the expenses and excesses used in our fashion are the bodies of young girls from the poorest parts of the world.

Every pair of jeans or blouse or dress we put on costs in bodies rather than dollars. We might pay $13 for a dress, but that dress came at the expense of a teenage girl’s actual blood, sweat, and tears. In some cases, it might have been paid for with her life, since these factories are locked tight and sometimes burn to the ground with everyone inside it.

Is not the torture and enslavement of young girls for cheap, off-the-shelf clothing the definitive excess of capitalism? Is this not a high cost for the clothes we wear? Could it be then that nothing we wear here in the United States, one of the main beneficiaries of the Global Economy, is modest? Based on the definition of modesty, I would say that the clothing we wear is too pretentious, extreme in its making, and immoderate to be so.

Perhaps, if we were very concerned about modesty, we might rethink how we get our clothes, how we can defend the rights of the workers who make our clothes, and how we ourselves might be more moderate in our purchase patterns for clothing instead of worrying about how much the clothing covers of our bodies. Just a thought.

The Sappiest

For the last few days, I’ve been watching puppies, kittens, and love stories in an attempt to erase the horrors of the weekend. Tonight, I watched A Walk to Remember for–I dunno–maybe the eleventieth time.

Why do all of Nicholas Sparks’ stories end so tragically? Someone really needs to sit him down and say, “Nick, even Shakespeare wrote a comedy every once and awhile. Would it kill you to write a happy ending?” I mean…I get it. I don’t even know if I’m capable of writing a happy ending.

More than 10 years ago, I had this dream of becoming a Romance novel writer…like the Harlequin, bodice-buster style of Romance novels. I loved that every single drug store grab always ended happily. You’re never disappointed at the end of one of those.

But I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t write about love or create a happy ending. I think I started three books and never finished them. What I’ve realized is that I don’t have a frame of reference for it. Sure, it’s all fiction, but you should be able to write convincingly about the relationship–it’s the only plot point. You really can’t phone that part in.

Again, I don’t have a frame of reference for a good relationship. I mean I’ve been in love, but not the kind that leads to any sort of long-term, stick-it-out-together, let’s-get-married kinda thing. My longest relationship was about 2 years. Before that, 8 whole months. In between those, 5 long years. Wouldn’t you know, my last relationship (the 2-year one) will have ended 5 years ago this September (I think)?

I’m not a fan of dating. I don’t know of anyone–guy or girl–who enjoys dating these days. I’ve heard horror stories. In fact, I have horror stories. Once, at the end of a date that didn’t go very well for me because the guy was extremely rude and pessimistic the whole evening, he told me that I was fat with crooked teeth. Then, he proceeded to ask me out on another date. He negged me. Ugh.

So how can I possibly develop a relationship between two characters that can be felt as genuine? To tell the truth, I don’t even know how people actually decide to get married. I don’t know what you have to feel to really want to make that happen. I’m not against marriage or anything. It would be great to feel that strongly about anyone. I just don’t know what that feeling is. What is it?

Maybe when I was younger–15 to 25 range–I felt emotions much stronger. Every feeling was life or death. Being with someone felt necessary, as if I needed that connection to really feel alive. Now at nearly 40, I don’t feel anything at all. It all feels empty, perhaps vaguely like an emotion I might have felt when I was 16 and wanted more than anything in the world to be in love, but tastes bland like the box the Twinkies came in.

And yet, I still cry when I watch A Walk to Remember. I still have hope that love exists, but maybe not the way I imagined it in my adolescence. Most of the time I think I would be keen for someone who could remember to take the trash to the curb on Sunday nights and unload the dishwasher after the cycle is done. That’s not quite passionate, but it’s very helpful, which I suppose can be better than passion.

From what I can tell, passion doesn’t age well. You know what does age well, though? Consideration. That never gets old, but it is–I find–extremely rare. Let’s just imagine that there is such a considerate, helpful, and passionate guy out there (nice to have all three). The chances of us meeting at this point are zero because I am a homebody and that was before ‘Rona.

So yeah, I have a dog for companionship and Netflix for reliving impossible Romances. What more do I need? Well, that–that is none of your business.

Until next time.

True Crime Brain Is A Drag

I’m disturbed. I’ve wasted most of my weekend binging true crime docu-series on Netflix. I watched every episode of Unsolved Mysteries and every episode of Filthy Rich. I’ve learned two very important lessons (neither one of them make me happy):

  1. No body, no crime.
  2. The truly evil are master manipulators.

The latter of these terrifies me the most because it demonstrates the high level of intelligence and the low threshold for brainwashing it takes to commit atrocities in plain sight. A master manipulator can Jedi mind trick almost anyone. I guess that makes them Sith.

They understand the human mindset: They easily read a person, pinpoint their weaknesses, and weaponize this knowledge against them. They are constantly playing a game of chess with everyone they meet whilst most people are playing an unaware game of solitaire.

The question I heard most often–even in my own mind–was how could this individual get away with this magnitude of evil for so long? Why aren’t they in prison already? The answer isn’t as simple as “because we don’t believe women.”

Someone like a Jeffery Epstein, has played the game out to checkmate in their minds. They know that most people would rather rationalize behavior than to believe the absolute worst case scenario. This plays to their advantage because they know also that the people who can decipher what their behavior means have a tough time trying to convince others of the truth.

The strategy is to go big–or go home–so big that it’s impossible to believe. The average person cannot accept that anyone could actually do something like this and get away with it, so therefore, they actually can’t be doing what it is that they are doing.

The absolute worst, most abominable things break us–traumatize us. Trauma impacts the brain to such an extent that it changes human behavior; Our actions and reactions will not be what they ought. This too works to the advantage of the master manipulator. By being human and experiencing trauma appropriately, we aid their long game.

A master manipulator has both a high IQ and EQ. The EQ is how they are able to get away with so much for so long. They themselves might never feel emotions like guilt, remorse, or sympathy, but most people do. This is what makes it easier for them to exploit others. Guilt, especially, can be harnessed to control others, as is often done at a societal level via religion, codes of ethics, or laws.

Not everyone can be controlled and a master manipulator knows this. They know who is susceptible and who is not. Those who cannot be controlled can still be manipulated. Part of this manipulation is the persona: The Philanthropist. Doing good deeds is not in any way a part of retribution, but rather a distinct part of the deception.

Having not personally met Jeffrey Epstein, some might assume that they would have known–that they would have hated him and perhaps stopped him–but it’s more likely that they would have liked him or at least liked being around him. By all accounts, he was charming, charismatic, and a good listener.

In fact, he had a personality quite similar to a cult leader. Think about that for a minute. Cult leaders are able to manipulate the men in their flocks to the point that the men feel privileged when the leader sleeps with their wives and daughters. They can even manipulate cult members into committing suicide or homicide.

Down this rabbit hole is dark. Fair warning.

If murder and suicide can be a part of the cult ritual, then too can child molestation. If Jeffrey Epstein was a cult leader, then his flock was being groomed in the moralization of child molestation and trafficking. The survivors of Jeffrey Epstein’s cult kept saying it’s bigger than the general public or media know. Maybe it’s bigger than they had the words to describe.

Maybe Jeffrey Epstein created and funded a cult, and the island–Pedophile Island–where his wealth is held in a trust, is their holy city. Their enigmatic leader is dead, but does that mean the cult died with him? Did he groom another to take over? Is he a cult leader or simply a very smart child molester who Ponzi schemed his pedophilia?

This has weighed heavily on my mind, as I recount the experiences of the Palm Beach police detectives, who found a number of women unwilling to testify on account they fancied themselves in love with Jeffery or the young girls who brought him other young girls and are now facing a lifetime of guilt for aiding and abetting a child molester.

This is easily the story of wealth and power and corruption in high places. It’s almost comforting as a narrative because it can’t happen to me if it’s the corruption of power and money. I can’t help thinking that it’s not; I can’t stop thinking that it’s a much more terrifying event. It reveals the underbelly of humanity–the soft point at which humanity can be split open.

It’s The Lord of the Flies. It’s The Lottery. It’s the Holocaust. It’s the ease at which we destroy human life with a smile upon our faces.

Like I stated at the outset: I’m disturbed. I think that’s enough true crime for me for awhile.