Category Archives: Manic Monday

Manic Monday: Colorado Students School the School Board on Democracy and Fight Back Against ‘Big Brother’

1984 by George Orwell
1984 by George Orwell

One of my all-time favorite books is 1984 (Signet Classics) by George Orwell. You like dystopian? Now that’s dystopian! 1984 may not be a horror story per se, but to me it is may be the scariest story ever written.

Scary because it feels plausible. And scary because for a person such as myself who values the freedom of thought and speech above all else, there is nothing more frightening than losing both.

1984 was published in 1948 as the super powers entered the cold war. Orwell may have been reacting to the events in pre-war Germany and Italy or perhaps looking east toward Russia and China.

But a recent news article brought Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece to mind. Have you heard about the brave students, educators and parents in Jefferson County, Colorado that are fighting back against an all right-wing school board?

Via Associated Press
Via Associated Press

I found this story via the LA Times. Apparently the recently-elected school board decided that it did not like the AP History curriculum. Here is a quote from the board calling for instruction in which “theories should be distinguished from fact. Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights.”

Okay, we’ll stop it right there for a moment. Read the words of the school board closely. “Promote citizenship, patriotism …” Sound familiar? Does it not sound like the “Ministry of Truth” from 1984, the organization responsible for propaganda and historical revision? After all, Winston Smith’s job in 1984 was to rewrite past newspaper articles so that they always reflected the current party line. This is exactly what the Jefferson County school board is attempting to do.

The school board also said: “Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard for the law.”

I suppose, then, that the board proposes that students not learn about the Civil Rights movement, Women’s Suffrage movement, and other events in which citizens used their rights of Free Speech (yes, you know that thing guaranteed by the First Amendment, i.e. the law) to attempt to change to system and obtain freedom for all people, not just the white male people.

In fact, the board’s plan to revise the history books was “drafted in response to a new set of history standards adopted by the College Board, which gives more attention to minorities, Native Americans and pre-Columbus early American history.” (Source, Portland Press Herald.) (As an aside, the Herald also reports that the school board blames the student protest on “dissident teachers”, a phrase which also sounds a lot like it came from a spin-doctor handbook. If someone points out the problems with your agenda or policy, then call them “dissident” or “crazy” to discredit them.)

There was a well-written opinion piece on the Huffington Post blog yesterday written by Joseph Palermo. Mr. Palermo, speaking about Gretchen Carlson and Ken Witt, said: “And I doubt if Carlson and Witt ever heard of George Orwell who wrote: ‘Who controls the past controls the future. And who controls the present controls the past.'”

What Ms. Carlson or Mr. Witt know (or think) is probably irrelevant. They are mere pawns belching out the party line. You can be very sure that the right wing politicos behind this move in Colorado, even if they have never heard of George Orwell, absolutely know how to gain power through control of history. And make no mistake that their agenda is to control propaganda so that they can increase their own power.

That’s what totalitarian regimes do. And that’s what we’re talking about here.

Totalitarian is a system of government with only one party (or leader) having complete control and power over the people.

And what is the antonym for totalitarian?

Democracy.

And what is the foundation of democracy?

Freedom of speech.

Unfortunately, the freedom of speech in our country mainly serves the purpose these days of delivering free porn to every smart phone, tablet and computer in America. As I write this, more people right now are viewing porn than are engaging in political debate. Many, many, many more people.

That’s okay with the Koch brothers and their ilk. Because if you are sidetracked by porn and cat videos and such, then you’re not paying attention to what they’re doing to consolidate their power. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

Kudos to the students, teachers and parents in Jefferson County who saw the move by their school board for what it is: an attempt to white wash history in furtherance of their own political agenda. Kudos for exercising their First Amendment rights. It takes courage to speak out against the actions of institutions and people in power. But now, perhaps more than ever, we all must be vigilant about our freedom and muster the courage we may not believe that we have to preserve our freedom. This is our right – and responsibility – in a free society. I for one feel a surge of hope today as I witness young people pushing back against what is most assuredly a threat to their freedom of thought.

Manic Monday: What’s Up Natalie?

I’m not sure if I actually have any regular faithful readers of this blog who read what I post here. Or if the thousands of “hits” each month are bots.  But I’m writing this post in faith that there are some actual human beings who read what I write here.

So if you are a human being reading this and if you have read my blog for a while, you may have noticed that over the past year or so (*scratches head and says “Has it really been that long?”*) I have been inconsistent in posting. Yeah, I’ve posted Writer Wednesday spotlights of other writers. Sure, there have been some Sci Fi Friday posts. And yes, there have been posts about my most recent release (Emily’s Heart).

But when is the last time I wrote a Manic Monday post? I can’t remember.

Anyway, I have reasons (numerous) that I’ve been lax in my blogging. Some are lame, like feeling like since no one comments much on my blog that I may in fact be visited solely by Internet bots rather than real people so what’s the point in writing? Or that I was busy – blah, blah, blah.

But mainly I’ve been lax with my blogging because I’ve been dealing with some heavy shit in my life.

“What kind of heavy shit?” you ask.

First, there was my retirement from the practice of law in June of last year. You may be thinking that such an event should have freed up time for me to blog my brains out. And that’s logical.  But in truth, saying good-bye to my profession was a major life-change event which I’d wanted for sooooo long and was glad for but when it actually happened sort of took me by surprise at being sad about it. In recent years I had worked (very) part-time at being a lawyer and had stopped taking litigation cases so I wasn’t in court. It had become a small part of my life taking third seat to being a mom (always first) and my writing. But still, it had been a major part of my life – and my identity – for over twenty years (saying that makes me feel fucking old).

My very wise husband who knows me sometimes too well warned me. “Give yourself six months, Natalie.” I rolled my eyes and let his words of wisdom go in one ear and out the other (as I do too frequently). “Whatever,” I thought. 

Guess what happened? He was right. (Don’t you hate it when your mate is right?) It indeed took me about six months to fully release the old job and identity and to get into a new routine and be okay with the whole thing. It was like for the second half of last year, I’d get up and get my kid off to school then sit at my desk and play at being a writer, all the while feeling guilty that I wasn’t really “working” or having anxiety that somehow I was neglecting some serious shit that needed done, and then feeling worse because I was feeling down about retiring to write full-time when so many writers I know don’t have the opportunity to do that though they want to, so get over yourself all ready and be fucking happy! I wasn’t happy and then felt guilty about not being happy.

But wait, there was more. And this is the heavy stuff that as I writer I feel I should be writing about and talking about but mainly I want to just ignore it and hope it goes away. At the end of the summer last year, my mom was diagnosed with cancer.

For the fifth time.

And it’s bad. Really bad. Like the oncologist using the word “palliative chemo” kind of bad.

As if that weren’t heavy enough, on the heels of us finding out about my mom’s cancer, my dad had a stroke. He has been in and out (mostly in) a nursing home ever since. He’s alive, but extremely diminished.

My mom is only 73. My dad 76.

They aren’t that old. And I’ve had to face the fact over the past six months that it is more likely than not that neither of my parents will make it to the age of 80. In fact, it is quite possible that one of them will be gone before the end of the year.

I just typed that without crying. For months I could not have.

The story of my mom’s cancer is actually one of hope and of sort-of miracles and of human strength and endurance. It’s a story of pain and relationships and love and family. It’s a story that could educate others with the BRCA1 gene (my mom is BRCA1 positive). It’s a story that many may relate to and find interest in.

But I’m not able to write it. At least not now.

When I first found out my mom’s dire diagnosis, my writer friends said “write about it.” It was good advice. And I tried.

Some people can wrest poetry from pain. I’m not one of them.

Grief shuts me down. Sorrow makes me withdraw to the within. And try as I might to exorcise it through words, it does not work.

I was able to complete my third novel and maybe I did channel some of my pain into the prose. Emily’s Heart is, after all, an Apocalyptic story that tends to the darker side of things. But *spoiler alert* the end is a happy one and I was stuck for months last year, unable to wrest that happy ending out of myself because I did not feel happy. The fact that it finally came out of me at all is a sort of small miracle that I can’t explain.

Over the past nine months or so, my writing was filled mainly with anger and angst, heartache and unhappiness.

So I spared you all of that and kept my blog a cancer and sickness-free zone. 

The good news is that as this year progresses, I’m feeling more and more able to write without it being filled with misery. The shadowy veil of sad feelings is lifting and I’m more focused on the here and now – on the living – than on things past.

I’m in the mood to celebrate. I wrote three books!! Can I hear a woot, woot?! I completed a whole series (The Akasha Chronicles). *Does happy dance*

I am an incredibly blessed person to be able to devote my working hours full-time to doing what I love to do. I get to write the stories that fill my head. And I get to go out to book events and meet readers and chat story with them (one of my absolute favorite pastimes).

I have a wonderful daughter, husband and three furry critters that I share my house and life with. And I am alive, and this is no small miracle.

So as I move with more hope and optimism than I’ve had in a while into the middle of this year, here is what’s coming on my blog and in my writing:

Natalie Wright, Manic Monday
1. Manic Monday will return! I don’t promise that I’ll have a Manic Monday post every week, but I am feeling the itch to speak my *manic* mind so stay tuned for my rants, ravings, musings and Monday weirdness.

2. Writer Wednesday is here to stay. In the past, I have devoted Wednesdays to featuring other writers and occasionally to posting writing tips. Both of those things will continue to happen on Wednesdays. (If you are a writer and would like to be featured on my Writer Wednesday, please shoot me an e-mail to NatWritesYA (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll speak of it).

But I also have a new feature that I’ll add to Writer Wednesday in upcoming weeks that will appeal to writers of all makes, models and types – and will get the writerly conversation going.

3. Sci Fi Friday continues. For any of you paying attention, you may have noticed my new Friday feature, Sci Fi Friday. These posts are about scientific discoveries that I come across that strike me as having science fiction implications. I also reserve that time to review science fiction books or movies, OR generally to post anything science of science fiction related.

H.A.L.F., by
Natalie Wright
Arrives Spring, 2015
I’ll continue to devote Fridays to all things science and sci fi as I gear up to release the first book of my next series, H.A.L.F., a young adult science fiction series. While my last series was (mainly) fantasy, I’ll be writing science fiction (mostly) for the foreseeable future AND science stuff fascinates me. So if you, too, enjoy hearing about science fact that seems more like science fiction, then make sure you hang out with me on Fridays to discuss new technology and scientific discoveries. 

So that’s what’s up with Natalie. What’s up with you? Drop me a line in the comments below or you can reach me by e-mail at NatWritesYA (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thank you for reading to the end 🙂

Manic Monday: Imprisoned by Poison

toxic skull 3 green pictures, backgrounds and images

poi-son /’poizen/ n. 1. a substance that causes death or injury to a person or animal that swallows or absorbs it. 2. harmful influence

SYNONYMS: toxin, venom

Are you imprisoned by a poison?

Poisonous things take many forms. Sometimes we find ourselves in toxic relationships. I’ve been a divorce attorney and mediator for almost eighteen years. I’ve seen lots of people live years – decades even – in relationships that are poison to them. Why do they do it? Why can’t they just leave?

Other times we find that the very food we eat has become toxic to our bodies. What for you may be a benign food may, for someone else, be a bona fide toxic substance.

For me, dairy products are poison to my system. Yet for years I have denied the extent of the problem. Oh, I use Lactaid milk and avoid ice cream (mostly). But then I slather cheese onto everything.

And I LOVE cheese. In fact, I’ve never met a cheese I couldn’t love. Even the fluorescent stuff that squirts out of a can.

But it’s poison to me. It will cause me pain. It will make me glued to my house so I can be near a bathroom (sorry for the TMI!). It will cause me joint pain and make me feel nauseus and bloated. It will often cause me to feel lethargic and tired, even in the morning.

Why in God’s name do I eat this substance that is poison to me?

I suspect that the reason I eat cheddar cheese (and Gouda and brie and Havarti – you get the point), is the same reason people stay in those toxic relationships. The good part, even though it may be enjoyed a very small amount of time, is so freakin’ good that we put up with the pain for the hit of the substance.

But there comes a point when the enjoyment no longer exists. Even a small bite of the substance causes extreme discomfort and you come to the conclusion that it’s not worth it.

As it goes for cheese so it goes for relationships. Sometimes enough is enough.

Then it’s time to clean house.

Cleaning house can feel good, especially when it’s long overdue. An incremental change can make a difference. A whole-house mega cleanse can be life altering.

I’ve been holding onto cheese. And it has been holding onto me. But the love affair has turned sour (*rimshot*).

I’m cleaning house. From top to bottom and inside out, I’m ridding myself of poisons in my life. I’m starting with dairy.

I’ve started down this path before but honestly, I never gave it my best shot. I’d avoid cheese and stop eating ice cream, but I’d still use butter and didn’t scan food ingredient lists.

That’s a half-ass approach and it had half-ass results. The same can hold true for relationships. If you pull back a little, it can feel okay. But if you’re still imbibing the poisonous substance, it will maintain its hold over you. Best to go cold turkey and cut the toxin out of your world completely.

How do you do it? How do you take that step and excise the poison from your life?

For me, it starts with proper motiviation. I quite simply want nothing more than to spend the majority of my day writing. And when the poison has such a hold that I can no longer do that, a change has to come. I have so many stories to write, I can’t afford to have to take a day off – or a week off – because I hurt.

A proper vision of the thing you know you can achieve without the poisons in your life – that is the motivation that helps you clean house.

What about you? Are there toxic relationships in your life? What about poisonous substances that you still hold onto? And if you are holding onto a poisonous substance, what is the toxin preventing you from becoming? What dream is it killing?

Or maybe you have ridded yourself of a toxin? If you did, how did you do it? And how did you feel afterward?

I’d love to hear from you – especially if you know of dairy substitutes that don’t taste like poo!