Tag Archives: Christmas

What you know….

When I started writing, it was ‘write what you know’.  This has always been a trick question for me~ exactly what do I know? How to tie my shoes? How to get across LA at seven in the morning? [well, maybe not anymore] How to make great gravy?  How to buy Christmas gifts? I know a lot of things. I can be, if warranted, my own trivia course. Sometimes I am even amazed at what I remember, aka ‘know.’

Then it was ‘no stretch yourself’ what about what you would want to explore, about what you would like to do, where you would like to go. And I thought that was wonderful. And it seemed to me at that time we started to see a lot of, well, more and more world building. Whole universes designed to the greater good of what was essentially the same story–either boy loves girl, gets girl, girl becomes powerful, gets boy [lol] or man is ascendent to a throne but nobody, everybody wants to stop him. It didn’t matter if it was a love story, a thriller, an adventure, a mystery or a combination of all of them. Go ahead, stretch yourself!

Now if feels as if we are back to write what you know, with the added caveat of ‘how dare you!’ if you write outside what you know, and that means color and culture. A recent blog I visited spoke of all the white gatekeepers in publishing stoping the needed diversity. I was moderate, stating there are not new gatekeepers in the pipeline who are of a diverse background, i.e., people of color, marginalized voices, to take the place of those in position. I thought that maybe education, the opening of the mind, the possibility that there was a career in being a scrivener, that this is a hard slog for anyone wanting to publish.

First off I was told the author had a Ph.D., I am still unsure what that means, I have a masters. So? I was told it wasn’t education, because that was just another code word for system. And the system limits your interactions and holds you back from finding positions in an all white world.

I was told that I needed to ‘ponder’ the idea that marginalized voices are being held back purposefully by white gatekeepers, and I wonder at the self righteous anger, the victimization of their writing and the need to hold others accountable.

I wonder if these people know the editors and agents I do, the ones who continually go to conferences, SCBWI of course, who go through slush piles, who find those marginalized voices, hire sensitivity readers, and work to put out to the world stories that are important and necessary to everyone. I wonder if they ever saw Chimamanda Adichie in her ted talk on The Danger of A Single Story.

I come from the generation, while not me personally, walked the streets for equality, were chastised by fire hoses, jail, killings, and who were told “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”  and “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I believed him. My dad preached the same message to us, not in front of a huge crowd, just at the dinner table. I too thought we were all created equal, that is what I read in my Baltimore Catechism! there was no caveat for color or ethnicity. Not made, not kept, but created. I thought that it didn’t matter what color your skin, were you honest, generous, giving, truthful.  I believed. Yeah, this little white girl from the San Fernando Valley in Southern California with freckles across her nose and dark red hair. And so did my parents, a lovely white couple from Scranton Pennsylvania, of Irish heritage who understood what discrimination meant~ they were not that far removed from the time of ‘no Irish need apply’ and “no catholics hired’.

And, I thought we had made progress.  Here, I’ll say this true, true for me, because each person’s truth lies in their values, morals and ethics.  I don’t believe Donald Trump made us more racist. And I believe that  Mr. Obama, not made,  just took advantage.

I am pretty positive that when, under what ever administration it was, we moved from being a melting pot of immigrants who came to this country to be a part of the ‘the great American experiment,’ agreed, nay took an oath, to follow the laws,  learn the language, participate in the civil, cultural and political life of this country and leave behind what was their native culture moving to the reality that this was now their home, in the physical, political and, yeah, even metaphysical sense and they accepted this home as it was, bringing the richness of their former lives to enhance ours we lost. When we became a ‘salad bowl‘ with millions in our country without the benefit of that oath, that commitment, that willingness to be a part, well, we, Americans and America,  lost big time.

We have places that no longer follow our, yes OUR laws, who no longer believe that we were, are, that place where freedom rings. Still brings a swell to my heart to hear that. We are no longer that melting pot. We no longer believe in that truth~if you listen to the blogs, pundits, news, cable, even TV shows~ sigh and how they disappoint in presenting one side of a political discussion. It is a discussion, you know. A discussion we have had since the first words were penned on the US Constitution.

I think, believe that if those of you canting about equality and justice truly understood the meaning of the words, that we are created equal then perhaps you would not be so angry and so quick in seeking to blame others.

To paraphrase Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, memory is tyrannical~~ This is what I know. This is what I write. 

First Day

I’m not a late night sort of person, not really enchanted with the glitz and glitter of the evening. It’s dark. In the winter it is cold, usually very cold, at least by my standards. If you don’t have snow to cover all the dead branches, fallen leaves, brown grass and bare bushes, the world is not the most attractive sight. And. It’s hard to see.  So, not a First Night kind of girl.

Where did the feasting of New Year’s come from? My own unscientific and less than historical view is that it had a lot to do with the Georgian Calendar. Although I’ve never understood why the new year comes in the middle of the darkest of winter times. For me, Spring. March 1 should be New Year’s Day.

But the co-opting of non-Christian feasts into Christian feasts was probably one of the world’s first excellent marketing slash spin campaign. Ever. Bully! We take it as common fact that the holidays, especially the Christian ones, center around what we call pagan feasts. Spoiler Alert! Pagan: ORIGIN late Middle English: from Latin paganus ‘villager, rustic,’from pagus ‘country district.’Latin paganus also meant ‘civilian.”  The idea of a mystical birth in the middle of the death of winter, one that would bring renewal, was a powerful one, but for Catholics that is not the beginning of the year. For us it is the First Sunday in Advent, four Sundays before the Christ’s mass, Christmas, when we prepare, get ready. Await!  January first is when we celebrate the gift of Mary, the Mother of God.

Me? First Day should be like the most galactic, ginormous, perfect Monday. I’ve always LOVED Monday. Seriously! Each day at Villa Cabrini we lined up by class in the quad of the elementary section of campus. Mornings would be cool, refreshing, new. But on Monday, my baby blue uniform would be freshly ironed, the collars and cuffs bleach white, my Buster Brown’s polished. My plaid book bag hanging across my body would have my binder and sharpened pencils. In my lunch box the Thermos full of cold milk and a sandwich wrapped tightly in waxed-paper would sit alongside homemade chocolate chip cookies and an apple. Mother Superior would make the morning announcements and then the loudspeaker would blare a John Phillips Sousa march. Ah, that March King! He really knew his stuff. We would stand in place before marching in a drill you learned in kindergarten. March to the front. Turn back by ones, down by fours, back up by twos, down by twos and then each class peeled off to their respective rooms. By third grade you could do it in your sleep, but I never did. It was activity, movement, exciting. We were, for a bunch of grade school kids, precise, exacting, and perfect. It set the tone for the day. Do it right. There was no other option. Expectations! What a motivator. 

Resolutions don’t impress me, but assessments do.  Beginnings are tantalizing, wondrous, promising, and exciting. This is a new beginning. Just like Monday! Happy First Day!