Saturday, January 13, 2018

Poisoned by Greed

In the news this week, there are two American cities living on bottled water because America is literally being poisoned by greed. It’s as simple as that. Men and women who already have millions are doing anything—no matter the human or environmental cost—to become even richer. The are hoarding immense fortunes rather than reinvesting in the society that made them rich.

The one percent are buying politicians, poisoning our air, water, land, and sea so that they can own yet another mansion and million-dollar yacht in Palm Beach to match the one they own in Martha’s Vineyard, which matches the one they own in the South of France. It doesn’t seem to matter to them how many people struggle in poverty, nor how many people they injure or kill, nor how badly they pollute the earth for future generations. Their single goal is corporate profits so that they and their families can become one of the privileged few.

I’m not pointing fingers at any religion or political party because this pandemic of greed affects everyone. It is greed—the idea of putting your needs above everyone else. The attitude of: I’ve got mine so fuck all the others. How many people have to die of gun violence before gun manufactures put human lives before their corporate profits? How many people have to starve before congress is forced to spend less on wars and more on the welfare of the nation? How many people have to be poisoned before the rich are shamed into caring?

So the question is, how can we convince these one-percenters that gathering riches at the detriment of others is shameful? How do we convince them that raising the standard of living for everyone will make their lives more fulfilling? An image comes to mind: Jimmy Carter helping to build housing for the needy. How do we make him a poster child for what is honorable and moral, and make it stick.

How can we as a nation convince people, all people, to put the good of society above their own needs, compassion above greed?

I don’t have the answer to those questions. But I do know that it is possible to insure everyone in America lives above the poverty line, that no child goes hungry, that all people have a shot at a decent education and a fulfilling career that allows a comfortable standard of life. Call me a socialist if you must, and I will proudly wear that badge of honor, because I believe that nobody can truly hold their head high when so many people are struggling to survive day to day.

From what I see, there is a cancer consuming our nation, and its name is greed.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Book Review: Boy Erased, a Memoir by Garrard Conley

This was not a book I picked to read, as I’m not interested in reading about anything as grotesque as conversion therapy. It was selected by my book club.

It’s a story about a gay son of a Baptist minister who got outed to his parents. They placed him in a conversion therapy camp to “cure” him, and things didn’t go well for the young man.

Although the prose is extremely well written, I found the pacing and content numbingly boring. What I did find interesting was the total Christian brainwashing that the author had suffered as a young man. I find it both horrifying and amazing that, in this age of science, people still take the bible literally. Boy Erased, in my opinion, is a book of sadness. A story of people who rebuff nature to pursue a myth.

This book reinforced every negative stereotype I have of organized religion and modern-day Christians.  

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Surviving Immortality Cover Art

This morning Dreamspinner Press emailed me the final version of cover art from my upcoming novel, Surviving Immortality. To me, it’s perfect because it looks like a young man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, and darkness in every direction, yet there are glimmers of light here and there to reach out to.

Many thanks to artist, Anna Sikorska, for her keen insight into the main character and her ability to portray that idea.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2018 Resolutions and Goals

2018 Resolutions:
I do like to make New Year’s resolutions, if only to check throughout the year to gauge how many I follow through on.

1. This year my focus is on cutting out all hard alcohol. I’ll still indulge in a glass of wine or two while out to dinner or at a party, but I’ve come to the point—or rather the age—where I believe my health is better served by abstaining. Goodbye vodka martinis. Goodbye manhattans. Goodbye shots of tequila at my favorite Mexican food restaurant. It was fun while it lasted. Hello green tea.

2. When Herman and I travel, I always take my computer and spend a few hours writing each day. But this year will be different. When I’m on vacation, I will also take a break from writing. No work while traveling. Those trips will be devoted solely to Herman and I spending time together.

3. Over the past year, even when my friends and social media were violently ridiculing Trump and the GOP, I’ve done what I consider an admiral job of not dissing people personally, even people I abhor. I will continue to try my best to always speak/post positively about people, or say nothing at all. That also applies to gossiping about people I know.

2018 Goals:
1. Aggressively market my upcoming novel, Surviving Immortality.

2. Finish Beyond The Cage, my latest manuscript. I’ve recently completed the first draft.

3. Compete a first draft of a new manuscript.

4. Learn conversational Spanish. I’m still in the beginning phase. I want to move to intermediate, and be able to have conversations with Spanish speakers.

5. Play tennis with Herman at least twice per week, and take at least one long hike per week.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Another Domino Has Fallen

On my last post of 2017, I wrote:

2017 has been one of the most exciting, reward, and exceptional years of my life. The highlights included going on safari in Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan India and getting within twenty feet of a Bengal tiger, cooking a meal for monks in a remote monastery in northern Thailand and then receiving their blessings, riding a camel for the first time, and also an elephant for the tenth time, walking five hundred and fifty miles across northern Spain on a spiritual pilgrimage, working to get my latest novel ready for publication by Dreamspinner Press, attended three wedding of nieces and nephews, and the lost three beloved friends.

It was a year of great blessings and greater heartache. Those three deaths came very close together at the end of the year. They hit us like dominos, before we could recover from the one, another hit, and another. Heartrending grief spread over a few dark months.

This morning I received news that my beloved brother-in-law, Ross, passed in the night. He had suffered Alzheimer’s disease, and had been slowly deteriorating in a nursing home these last five years. His passing is both heartbreaking and a blessing. A blessing because his quality of life in that nursing home was dreadful. He hated it, but he required constant care, which he couldn’t get at home. A heartbreak because he was a loving soul who put everyone else’s needs above his own. I greatly admired his compassionate, giving spirit.

I will miss you dearly, Brother.