In light of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida two weeks ago, Americans have had to ask themselves some very difficult questions. The answers to those questions are just as difficult.
Today, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that not only will they be raising the minimum age limit for buying guns in their stores to 21, but they will also no longer sell assault style rifles or high-powered magazines. This is regardless of local, state or federal law.
I applaud the executives who made this decision. I’m sure they will lose some customers, but the fact that they have put people over profit is a sign that hopefully things are starting to change for the better.
Unlike certain politicians who take money from the NRA, the executives understand that we cannot continue to do nothing when it comes to mass shootings, especially mass school shootings. And if that means the store taking a financial hit to make a point, so be it. I applaud them and I hope to see more stores follow their example.
I want to tell you a story about risk and how taking a risk changed my life.
In May of 2014, I was looking for a new way to work out. Up until that point, I had a membership at the local gym, but I wasn’t putting in the effort and frankly, it showed.
As I was looking around for another form of exercise, I passed by a local martial arts school. I must have walked by it hundreds of times, but something stopped me that night. I walked in, asking for more information and the rest is history.
Earlier this evening. I earned my black belt in muy thai kick boxing. Taking a risk for me is never easy. The comfort zone sometimes is a little too comfortable.
“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”-Roy T. Bennett
Stepping out of my comfort zone and taking the risk to simply ask for more information was just the first step. There are some risks in my life that I regret taking, this is not one of them.
I encourage my readers to take a risk, at least once in a while. You never know where the risk will lead.
Today is the Jewish holiday on Purim.
Jews around the world dress up and celebrate the victory by Queen Esther over Haman, who was more than eager to rid Shushan of her Jewish population.
Esther, as both a woman and a member of a religious minority, had two strikes against her. But even though she had no power in the traditional sense, she had enough sense of self to stand up for who she was and what she believed in. Even, if it meant that her life would be in jeopardy.
We unfortunately live in a time and place where instead of celebrating our differences, we use them to divide ourselves. The lesson that I take from Purim, especially considering the current state of American culture is that if we want our country to flourish, we have to celebrate our differences. At this point in American history, we have two choices: divide and be conquered or come together and survive. Personally I would rather find a way for us to come together and survive. But that’s me.
At it’s heart, the American democracy is for the people, not for those in power. It is supposed to ensure that every individual American citizen has a voice and the freedom to live as they wish.
But even with the guarantees of personal freedoms, and the right to voice our opinions without fear of reprisals, there is a catch. We have to fight for our democracy and we have to remind the politicians who is truly in charge of the country.
Last year, Naomi Klein released her latest book/manifesto, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. In the book, she describes how certain behind the scenes forces led the Donald Trump winning the 2016 Presidential election and what we, as the average citizen, must do to make sure that these forces do not win.
I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it not only because it made me uncomfortable, but also because it is a reminder of what we as Americans citizens must do to make sure that our freedoms and our voices are not squashed by those with money and power.
I absolutely recommend it.
With the mid-term elections coming up in November, it is crucial that Americans vote. Especially women voters.
Vice President Mike Pence had stated and continues to state that he believes that abortion would end in our lifetime. This statement is exactly why every voter, especially every female voter who is over 18, should find a way to get to their local polling station in November.
Undoing Roe V. Wade would force American women back to a time where a woman had thee choices:
- Back alley abortions which are unsafe and could lead to death.
- Carry the pregnancy to full term and be the best mother they could be under the circumstances.
- Carry the pregnancy to full term and give the child up for adoption, hoping that they will be adopted by loving and supportive parents.
The fact is that abortion and the right to a legal and safe abortion is more than the physical act itself. It is a woman saying that she is living on her terms and will not kowtow to the idea that she is there simply to be a man’s sexual playing/cook/housekeeper/baby maker/daycare worker.
We are not going backwards, we are going forwards. The strides that American women have made are to be celebrated. While we celebrate our achievements, we must also remember that there is still much to be fought for. Voting is the easiest way to fight and to make sure that those in power hear our voices.
Ladies, we must all go to the ballot box in November. If you are over 18 and not registered to vote, please register. If you are over 18 and already a registered voter, please, I implore you, please vote. If not for yourself, for the girls too young to vote and for the girls not yet born. Their future and our future depends on it.
Every year, for one weekend, Janeites across the country gather together at the JASNA AGM to celebrate all things Austen. This year, the AGM will be held in Kansas City at the end of September. The subject is Persuasion and with a little luck, Amanda Root, who played Anne Elliot in the 1995 Persuasion will be in attendance.
Below, are the five reasons to attend the 2018 JASNA AGM:
- The chance to travel to cities that you otherwise might not have visited. Last year’s AGM was held in Huntington Beach, California. I can say now that I’ve been to California, which I couldn’t say before last fall.
- You get to meet Janeites from across the country and across the world.
- The speakers are amazing. The variety of subjects that relate to Jane Austen and novels are nothing short of dizzying.
- The Emporium is heaven. T-shirts, books, tea, etc. Every year, I have to remind myself that there is only so much room in my suitcase.
- Last, but not certainly least is the ball. Not everyone dresses up or dances, but it is certainty the highlight of every AGM, for me at least.
This is one trip I am looking forward to. Perhaps I will see one of you there.
A wise person once said that easy reading is hard writing.
I couldn’t agree more.
In the fall of 2016, I started writing a novel. Unfortunately, I am not as far along as I thought I would be. Most novels start at about 80,000 words. As of this week, I am up about 21,000 words.
Life, a full-time job, my freelancing work and the easy access to social media often pushes my novel down to the list of priorities.
But this past week, I made a choice. I made a choice to make small steps to complete my novel. Every night I spent a few minutes working on the novel via the notes I received from my writing group.
It’s not easy and often requires making editing choices that I would prefer not to make, however, the choices are necessary.
I know that the first draft will not be done for quite a while. However, I am confident that the small steps I am making will one day lead to a complete novel.
I watched the clip of you speaking at CPAC 2018 and I would like respond to your comments.
First of all, I wanted to confirm the full text of the 2nd amendment. It is as follows:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
While the amendment does not state that everyday citizens are barred from owning firearms, it does state that the right to keep and bear arms is necessary for an army to protect the lives and freedoms of the civilian population.
Please also keep in mind that the firearms that are available today are far more powerful that the firearms that were available in the late 18th century.
There are millions of Americans, myself included who do not want to take away your right to own a gun or any other rights listed in the Constitution. We are only asking for common sense gun laws that respect the rights of law-abiding gun owning citizens who are of sound mind, while preventing mass shooting like the one that happened in Parkland, Florida last week.
Why sir, must we again grieve the loss of 17 innocent people, most who were children because of a shooter who was able to legally purchase a weapon of war, and who has a history of mental illness?
While it has been proven that the shooter was not of sound mind, and that local authorities did not do their jobs as they should have, the fact still remains that a gun is responsible for taking the lives of 17 people.
Mass shootings have happened far too often in this country. We need you and your organization to step up and work with our government to prevent future events of a similar nature.
If this does not happen, I fear for the future of our country and our children.
A Concerned Citizen
There are some genres that force both writers and audiences to limit themselves. The science fiction genre allows the opposite, taking the writer and the audience into a world of limitless possibilities.
The 2011 movie, In Time, is set in a future where time is currency. In this world, the average person’s life expectancy is 25. After one has reached their 25th birthday, they are genetically programmed to stop aging. That is, unless one can buy enough time and live forever. While the rich remain young and immortal forever, those not blessed with the ability to buy unlimited amounts of time must get creative on how they acquire and use additional time.
Starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, the film is both a traditional science film and a message movie about class status. What surprised me about this movie is that unlike other singers, Justin Timberlake is not a bad actor. The problem with the movie is not with the premise of the film or the performers, but that the creative time could have lightened up the narrative a little.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the novel Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or seen any of the adaptations.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Sense and Sensibility to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
Any writer worth their salt will tell you that conflict is one of the key components of any story, regardless of genre to or specific narrative. When written well, conflict is what keeps the reader/audience engaged. In the romance genre, conflict usually comes by way of something or someone who is keeping the would be lovers apart.
In Sense And Sensibility, that someone is Lucy Steele. The would be lovers she is keeping apart is Edward Ferrars and Elinor Dashwood. Lucy is introduced to Elinor and the audience about a third of the way into the story. Lucy is one of two sisters, who is related to the distant cousin who is leasing the Dashwoods a cottage on his property after the death of their father and husband.
Lucy has a secret and Elinor is the one she chooses to share her secret with. Lucy is secretly engaged. Her future husband is Edward Ferrars, a former pupil of her uncle. The engagement is a secret because of the status of Edward’s family. While Lucy tells Elinor of her secret engagement, only Elinor and the reader/audience is aware of the spark between Elinor and Edward.
To sum it up: In using Lucy to create a wedge between Edward and Elinor, Austen is upping the ante on the reader/audience. She is keeping them on the edge of the seat and not (at least yet anyway), answering the will they or won’t they question when it comes to Elinor and Edward. A good writer knows when and where to introduce conflict and if written properly, the conflict will keep the reader/audience going to the very end.