Just Trying to Keep Up Here.

Handmade birthday card from my daughter.

I turned 60 last month. It’s a milestone. Actually, lots of milestones. I had a friend who turned 60 about 20 years ago. She said, “My grandmother said when you turn 60, you can say whatever you want.” That was when her grandmother’s life expectancy was probably 65-67. Now, if you start saying whatever you want when you turn 60, you most likely have a good 20-25 years to piss people off, including your kids who will be making arrangements for your care in your dotage.

No, I’m still biting my tongue. Mostly. Because I have a lot to learn still. If I want to do things like earn points from Starbucks, I have to learn how to download and use their app and figure out how to use the code I got to get a free drink. So I did that today. I also learned I can order ahead and my drink will be waiting for me. I also learned, having done that, it was quicker to park my car and run into the shop than to wait in the drive-thru line.

(On a side note, we have Dutch Brothers Coffee around here. If you don’t know they’re little kiosks taking up space in what used to be a usable parking lot. They’re manned by hyperactive teens (do employees get free coffee?) Their lines are always a block long. Nope. My days are numbered. I don’t got time to spend in too many drive-thrus anymore.)

Of course, I had to delete about 4 other apps from my phone to download the Starbucks one because my phone doesn’t have a lot of memory. Because I’m poor. One of the apps was the Square Point of Sales. I have a Square reader that can be used to collect payments for my little sewing business and maybe for selling books. Because nobody carries cash anymore.

Woodstock stamp. The now iconic music festival was not well-received by mainstream society in 1969.

Or buys stamps. I use maybe six stamps a year, not including Christmas cards. Most of the people I know don’t use stamps, even at Christmas because I don’t get cards from them anymore. But I still feel neglected and forgotten. There’s no app for that yet. Unless it’s a game you get addicted to and you forget about the real world.

Fred always had a gray suit in my world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advanced technology when I was a kid was color TV. We didn’t have one. There is probably more computer power in my 8 gig cell phone than there was on any Apollo space mission craft when I was a kid. Actually, I imagine a gigabyte of computer memory back then was unimaginable. I would look it up, but my time is precious.

I guess keeping up with technology is good for my brain. When I can no longer do it, I’ll have to sit back in my zero-gravity chair watching reruns of The West Wing, Breaking Bad, and Law and Order on my smart tv that is a lot dumber than the virtual reality glasses people use when they’re flying around in their driverless cars while probes inject emotional reactions from TV and movies directly into their nervous systems.

 

By the way, can somebody help me get this package of batteries open?

 

It shouldn’t be this hard to be a girl

A poem I found through Our Stories Untold, a website about sexual harassment and abuse in the Mennonite church. The author is unknown.

Untitled.

 

When I was six years old, I gave my first blowjob.
“It’s a game”, said He. “Don’t you want to play?”
It was too big, and I threw up on him.
He said I’d do better the next time.

When I was seven years old, I watched a group of fellow second graders cheer as a boy in my class tried to kiss me. He hugged me from behind, giggling all the while.
I threw sand in his eyes, and was sent to the Principal.

When I was eight years old, I had an elderly teacher ask me to stay behind in class. He carried me on his shoulders, and called me pretty.
“Teacher’s Pet!” my friends declared, the envy visible on their faces.
They ignored me at lunch that day.

When I was nine years old, an older girl on the school bus would ask me to lift my skirt up for her. She was pretty and kind, and told me that I could only be her friend if I did what she said.
I wanted to be her friend.

When I was ten years old, a relative demanded that he get a kiss on the cheek every time we met. He was large and loud, and I proceeded to hide under my bed whenever I learnt that he was visiting.
I was known as a rude child.

When I was eleven, my auto-man told me that we would only leave if I gave him a hug every day.
He smelled like cheap soap and cigarettes.

When I was twelve years old, I watched as a man on the street touched my mother’s breast as he passed us. She slapped him amidst the shouts of onlookers telling her to calm down.
She didn’t calm down.

When I was thirteen years old, I exited a restaurant only to see a man visibly masturbating as he walked towards me. As he passed, he winked lasciviously.
My friends and I shifted our gazes down, aghast.

When I was fourteen, a young man in an expensive car followed me home as I walked back from an evening class. I ignored his offer to give me a ride, and I panicked when he got out, only to buy me a box of chocolate that I refused. He parked at the end of my road, and didn’t go away for an hour.
“It turns me on to see you so scared.”

When I was fifteen, I was groped on a bus. It was with a heart full of shame that I confided in a friend, only to be met with his anger and disappointment that I had not shouted at the molester at the time when it happened. My soft protests of being afraid and alone were drowned out as he berated my inaction. To him, my passiveness and silence were the reasons why things like this continue to happen.
He did not wait for my response.

When I was sixteen, I discovered that Facebook had a section of inbox messages named ‘others’, which contained those mails received from strangers, automatically stored as spam. Curious, I opened it to find numerous messages from men I had never seen before. I was propositioned, called sexy, asked for nudes, and insulted.
Delete message.

When I was seventeen, I called for help as a drunken man tried to sexually harass me in a crowded street.
The people around me seemed to walk by quicker.

At eighteen, I was told that sexism doesn’t exist in modern society.
I was told that harassment couldn’t be as bad as us women make it out to be.
That I should watch what I wear.
Never mind you were six, never mind you were wearing pink pajamas.
That I should be louder.
But not too loud, a lady must be polite.
That I should always ask for help.
But stop overreacting, there’s a difference.
That I should stay in at night, because it isn’t safe.
You can’t get harassed in broad daylight.
That I should always travel with no less than two boys with me.
You need to be protected. 

That it can’t be that hard to be a girl.

I am now nineteen years old.
I am now tired.

 

(This poem was anonymously submitted to Glasnost.)

Review of Mercury by Margot Livesey

284463685 of 5 stars
I still can’t pinpoint why I was so absorbed in this book, in Donald who is not a flashy man but is steady and devoted to his family. Maybe it’s the deep point of view or maybe it’s the hints that get dropped along the way or his humility as he confesses the small lies, omittances, and errors in judgment that led to a devastating event that changed his family forever.<br /><br />I missed Donald when the narrative switched to his wife Viv for a short time. But she filled in gaps in the story that Donald knew nothing about, why she did what she did based on unrealized dreams and her obsession with the horse Mercury that she didn’t own. When Donald comes back, knowing now what he missed before, he sees what his misperceptions were and how those gaps in his knowledge and his character shaped events.<br /><br />Livesey manages to weave themes of honesty, friendship, family, and marriage into a complicated, highly readable tapestry of modern life. I recognized her name on the library bookshelf because she had been a lead instructor in the MOOC Iowa Writer’s Workshop recent course of which I am a dropout. I hope to read more by her in the future.

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/7312315-t-a-munroe”>View all my reviews</a>

The Ides of NaNoWriMo

It’s early on November 15th, 2016 and my NaNo word count is at 30,000 and change. 5000 words ahead, 20,000 more to go to win at 50,000.

500-words

I’me being a NaNo rebel this year, meaning I’m not writing a new novel, I’m doing whatever the heck I want. I don’t really need a new story in my head at this point.

Here’s what I’m doing instead:

Continuing to revise Killing Julie. This started out as What Deosn’t Kill You for 2010’s NaNo. I had started to revise it a few years ago, but it got lost on my broken hard drive, but that’s okay. I’m liking this better. For NaNo I’m adding 2 new points of view, one  first person POV (as is Julie’s) for the love interest Dan and one 3rd person that will cover Julie’s experiences with her psycho ex-lover. I changed the title becaseu there are literally thousands of book and series title that use What Doesn’t Kill You somehow.

Here’s the premise: Three things converge on Julie to change her happily productive although lonely life in Phoenix, Arizona. She’s diagnosed with a rare leukemia in an advanced stage. Dan walks into her shop and her life. Through Dan, accidentally, she encounters Craig, her ex-lover from who she escaped and gave up her promising career in L.A. as a costume designer. Craig is not a nice man.

Continuing with Lilyland book 3, Places Like Home. That’s the working title. I have lots of it written but kept getting stuck with the beginning part, but I’m getting that worked out. I don’t work on it as often as Julie at this point.

Premise: Lily marries David and adopts his special needs daughter. She’s tapped to direct the first film of the reboot of a major fantasy/sci-fi franchise and encounters sexism in many forms, more than ever. A devasting loss sinks Lily almost to the bottom, but with a young child she can’t afford to stay there.

I’ve set up and gone to two write-ins, where WriMos meet somewhere with their writing instruments and write, chat, write, chat, etc. Because of write-ins, November is my most social month. Because I’m a dork.

Oh yeah, and because I’m a NaNo Rebel this year, these 372 blog words count toward my 50,000.

skittles

Aftermath Of The Most Tortuous Campaign Season Ever

voteI didn’t pay much attention to the election updates yesterday until well after the polls closed even here in the western states. I detest political pundits blathering pointlessly over tiny tidbits of information as they trickle in that they spin to cause sensational nonsense in order to keep people glued to their network. But I knew enough before I went to bed so when I woke up in the middle of the night I thought, “Oh no. Trump.” Then I hoped maybe states uncounted before I hit the hay (and chased the dog off my side of the bed) might make a difference. It was not to be.

I wasn’t a fan of Hilary Clinton, either but would have voted for her if I hadn’t heard of Gary Johnson. He didn’t tickle all my presidential toes. He came the closest even though I knew he stood a snowball’s chance in an Arizona August.                               trumpw     johnson  clinton

Donald Trump was quite unpresidential during his campaign as if he just spouted off the top of that weirdly-haired head of his and said whatever his brain spewed up. I pray he does better now and takes the responsibility of the office seriously as public service and not an ego boosting spree firing up divisiveness. I pray if he gets stupid Congress fights him as hard as they did Obama on issues. Prayerful people I know and respect believe Trump is God’s choice to lead our country. The Bible often says those in authority are put there by God. In that I trust. I pray our country is led to be greater, but not necessarily in Trump’s way. America still has marvelous people and potential.

What all of us as Americans have to do now is not gloat and not despair. Our country’s greatness comes from the good hearts of her people, certainly not from most of the representatives of we the people in federal government. We have to keep being kind and helpful, understanding and strong. We have to keep our minds open and our mouths shut more often. And when we speak, we have to do it with respect and honor for our fellow citizens.

One of my favorite things at a baseball game is singing God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch with everyone in the park. Well, I don’t usually sing because it’s often in a bad key for me and I get all choked up, sensitive dork that I am. So, sing that song in your head if you feel despair for our nation. If you don’t believe in God, choose another way to wish good things on our country, today and every day in the future.

070909-N-0303C-002 BALTIMORE (Sept. 9th, 2007) - Musician 1st Class Beth E. Revell sings ÒGod Bless America,Ó during the seventh inning stretch between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards. U.S. Navy photo by Musician 1st Class Tina M. Catalanotto (RELEASED)

070909-N-0303C-002
BALTIMORE (Sept. 9th, 2007) – Musician 1st Class Beth E. Revell sings ÒGod Bless America,Ó during the seventh inning stretch between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards. U.S. Navy photo by Musician 1st Class Tina M. Catalanotto (RELEASED)

This is still our country. Some days it’s easy to want to give up. If we do give up, that’s when our fears will come true.

Passion for Pantsing

Writing by the seat of my pants (pantsing) makes NaNoWriMo so much fun for me. Here I talk about being a pantser on the blog of writer and editor Keri Rozansky..

http://keriwriter.com/ways-nanowrimo-part-interview-pantser/

woman-writer

NaNoWriMo is coming!

nano So, here it is, the ides of October 2016. While many women are thinking about the holidays and scouring Pinterest for decorating ideas and recipes, writing women are not.

Okay, I know I can’t speak for every woman writer. But on most of my writing Facebook pages, the talk is about NaNoWriMo . Thank the Lord there are places to go where no trace of politics can be found. NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month which is November. Writers’ blogs and writers’ Facebook groups are filled with angst-ridden posts asking, “Who’s doing NaNo this year?”

We’re writers. Why the distress about doing what we love to do? You know how marathon runners stress about finishing their next race? Well, WriMos stress about completing 50,000 words in 30 days. Not just any, 50,000 words, but arranged in such a way they qualify as a novel. A rough draft of a novel, not one you can send out to agents yet (although some have, much to the chagrin and amusement of agents and publishers.) Or maybe it’s the mere beginning of an epic fantasy or a future detective series. Or a novella. Finding time to write that many words amidst the doings of everyday life is a challenge for many folks.

That’s no so much me anymore since I’m unemployed. But I remember those days. this year, besides NaNo, I’m also taking an online course with the University of Iowa Writing Workshop, and sending out queries for a revised former NaNo project, working on book 3 of Lilyland and working with a critique group. Writing, writing everywhere and not a royalty in sight. Sigh.

y unofficial slap-together cover

my unofficial slap-together cover

Since I started NaNo-ing in 2008, I have completed 8 rough drafts (although two were for the same novel). Two of those have been revised, edited, polished, and self-published. Another one I’m currently querying literary agents with. Two others I am currently revising.

If you think you have a novel in you that’s screaming to get out, give NaNo a try this year. Sign up here. You’ll meet a great online community to cheer you on and who will understand what you’re doing when no one around you does. You can meet other actual people face to face at local write-ins. You can drink gallons of coffee and nibble Skittles, M&Ms and pretzel nuggets like mad. Hopefully, you’ll be able to get your family or roommates to understand. If not, it’s only 30 days. 640px-skittles-louisiana-2003

6 Tools for Teens – Pass it On

Share this with your teens and talk to them about it. It mostly addresses girls, but teen guys are trafficked, too. Kids from ALL kinds of families fall prey to the greedy wiles of traffickers.

Binge watching.  Who doesn’t love having a weekend with an empty calendar, your favorite snacks, and your most beloved TV series queued up?  Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, the series ends, withdrawal hits, and life as you know it is over.  You were not prepared and now that the hysteria has set in, you’re beyond hope of finding a solution… So you start the series over.  No shame, it happens to us all.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Last week we talked about “What Is Child Sex Trafficking?”  You read it, right?  Next week we’ll be addressing parents and how they can watch out for their kids.  This week, we want to talk to the teens.  As a teenager, how can you watch out for yourself?  How can you keep from becoming one of the hundreds of thousands of girls who are sex…

View original post 551 more words

Human Trafficking Awareness Month–Targeting Buyers

trafficked girl w teddy bearHere it is January again. And once again it’s Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The problem hasn’t gone away and like most of this nature has most likely gotten worse.

When I started volunteering as Twitter account manager for StreetLightUSA, a local provider of comprehensive services for sex trafficked girls, in 2014, the emphasis of the anti-sex trafficking/stop child rape movement was getting the justice system and society to stop referring the human merchandise being bought and sold as prostitutes and throwing them in juvenile detention centers like their adult counterparts get sent to jail.

Education and awareness have changed this*. This girls and boys are now considered victims because it’s become clear that these young people do not willingly sell their souls to pimps who in turn sell their bodies to buyers, but they were coerced into it and coerced to remain. The pimps prey on basic human needs like food and shelter for runaways, love, and acceptance for kids who don’t feel that at home or are rebelling against it. Pimps play with the minds of their victims like experts of the human psyche. Drugs, rewards, punishment, fake love and more keep these now damaged children hostage. Some don’t realize they can escape and those that do fear for their lives if they leave.

Who would knowingly enter into a life like that, to be raped 10, 20, 30 times a day, to be beaten and drugged and manipulated in the most inhuman ways? All states and many countries now have decriminalized minor victims of sex trafficking, keeping them out of jail and placing them with services for recovery and restoration, although this system needs much improvement.

A more recent focus to eliminate selling our children to be raped is reducing demand or making it more dangerous and less worth it for men who pay to rape children. Many states and municipalities have introduced laws meant to discourage men from soliciting sex with children. In Phoenix, AZ and it’s surrounding cities, such a man is faced with heavy fines, sex school, his picture being published online and being labeled as a sex offender with all the ramifications that go with that.

Just as we’ve thought of child victims as mini-prostitutes who want to do what they’re actually being forced to do, we want to think of the sex buyers of these children as creatures so disgusting the only way they can get sex is to pay for it. This is false. These men are professionals, or businessmen or men with decent jobs, often married with children. Most now solicit and arrange for sex with children using the internet. They are the men we see every day in our professional and business dealings. For some of us, they are our family members.

One way police are capturing these people–mostly men–are by sting operations. They place an ad, set up in a hotel and arrest the men coming to them expecting to find a teen, or even younger. But they find the police and handcuffs and arrest and shame. This is one way of reducing demand.

But it’s just a drop in the bucket. Some traffickers still work by word 0f mouth, some sell their children, young relatives, their girlfriend’s children out of houses and apartments. These people need to be caught, too.

Increasingly, traffickers arrested and convicted are facing many years in prison, but the buyers do not. The risk of getting caught and the current punishments for buyers aren’t fearsome enough to deter them from paying a few dollars to rape a child. Without a market, a commodity is no longer needed, the business goes out of business.

We’re a long way from the perfect society where sex does not rule the minds, bodies and souls of many people. We’re a long way from respecting each other when it comes to sex. Until that day arrives when there is a worldwide epiphany and we understand how we hurt each other and determine to change our behavior, we must keep making progress to protect out most vulnerable citizens and punish and hopefully rehabilitate offenders. We must educate, and when that fails, prosecute. Otherwise, our society is doomed.

*SharedHope International 2015 Protected Innocence Report

Follow my Pinterest page for occasional news and articles about sex trafficking awareness

Follow StreetLight USA on Pinterest.

My Reading Year in Review

I’ve been doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge for the last two years. I set my goal at 20 books each year. I only made it to 17 in 2014. I got bogged down in a long “bestseller” and an equally long “award winner” that I might have been able to finish had they both better content editing. I did exceed my goal for 2015 by 2.68 books, though. I’m a slow reader (Michael Fassbender admits to being a slow reader, too. *sigh*) so I don’t set lofty goals.

My non-scientific and random review methods based on the fact I’m a writer, I get moody and other things that may vary day to day.

***** So compelling I’m willing to not do things I love (like write and sleep) to keep reading.

**** The characters are compelling or the story so interesting they follow me around until I can read again.

*** Good enough I’ll keep reading, maybe for enjoyment or maybe another reason.

** Gave it a good try, but probably won’t finish.

* WTF?

My ***** for 2015

  • The Lady of Lakewood Diner by Anne R. Allen. I believe Ms. Allen is an indie author. If you grew up around or are interested in the 1960s, you’ll especially enjoy this.
  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer. I’m not a big fan of things about World War II, but the characters and the prose are stunning.
  • The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood. A library book sale big time score! Loved everything about this book.
  • Horse and Buggy Mennonites by Donald B. Kraybill and James P. Hurd. Nonfiction research for Zook’s Corner. A readable interesting detailed account of Old Order Mennonites in Lancaster County, PA.

The lowest I gave was a *** to The Outcast by Jolina Petershiem. I think I was feeling generous that day.

Everything else received solid ****.

An L.A. writer runs to Maine and meets an odd little girl. Literary fiction.

Sometimes I inadvertantly pick up books around the same time with the same settings or themes. In 2015 I read At The Water’s Edge right before All the Light We Cannot See, both WWII settings. Then both set in Seattle were Safe with Me and Firefly Lane. The Robber Bride is set in Toronto (which I’ve actually had the pleasure of visiting) and something else was Toronto based in my life then…maybe a movie?

I think the most disappointing was The Girl on the Train. Wildly popular and I got it for cheap on Kindle. It was a great read until the ending which was just “meh.” In my opinion. You may think it’s brilliant.

I did abandon a book, Hopeless by Colleen Hoover. It’s YA. I found the first person over-obsessing of a guy by a teenage girl annoying. Not a bad book and I have some questions that won’t get answered because I don’t like the voice, but just not for me.

Maybe if you click here, you’ll go to my Goodread page of my 2015 books. If not, sorry. If so, click on the book if you’re interested in my rating/review.

Lined up for 2016, I have The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster by Scott Wilbanks and Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. First I have to After the Rising by Orna Ross, whose Blue Mercy I really enjoyed in 2014. I think I’ll keep my goal at 20 books. It’s always feels better to exceed a goal than to not meet one.

What was your favorite book in 2015? Anything on your reading agenda for the New Year?

Note: Thumbnails are of other books I read in 2015 by indie authors (except Everything I Never Told You isn’t indie.)