What blogging means to me

I started blogging in 2008. My first post was on a Blog called The Glass Half Full, and my first post was on September 27, 2008.  That was 6 years ago!  When I look back at those first posts, they are interesting.  Actually, they aren’t.  They are pretty boring.  I was just writing to write, and I didn’t know anything about monetizing, or an audience, or “how” to write.  I just wrote.  I think I enjoyed it.  I never really got too personal, and I didn’t many many years ago.  Most of my blogs were very short, only a couple of paragraphs, and they were quite sporadic.  I didn’t write very often at all.

Then I met a woman at the church I belonged to and she wanted to write together, so we collaborated.  She had been blogging for awhile also, and had read books on blogging and websites on blogging, and despite whatever happened that was not positive I will say that she definitely taught me a lot about the mechanics of blogging. It was her idea to apply to BlogHer.  She maintained the blogsite with backgrounds, and themes.  We both paid for the domain name and any the expense.  We had weekly “meetings” to plan and collaborate and share ideas.  We actually worked very well together when it came to business.  In the end it was a personal issue that drive us apart, and to be honest it was me who left her.  I needed to walk away and that is a story that I will never tell because it involves confidential conversations I had and situations I was in while I was an employee at a church.  However, she did teach me a lot so when I went back out on my own and created this bog I had much more knowledge about what to do.  So for what it is worth, thank you for that Susan.

When I started this blog, I did populate it at the beginning with blog posts I had written at the other site because I was emotionally drained.  I had no will to write, and just needed some time to heal.  But that has changed over the last two years I have been blogging on my own. My first blog post here On Coffee, Clutter and Chaos was on October 17, 2012.  Since then I have blogged 151 times.  I wrote 48 times in 2012 between Oct 17 and Dec 31.  I wrote 63 times in 2013.  Of those a couple were featured, a couple were syndicated and I was enjoying writing.  Then something happened.

I didn’t write between 3 December 2013 and 31 Jan 2014.  When I did write again I was really wondering if I should continue or not.  My mother had sharply criticized my writing saying what I wrote was “too personal” and “why did I have to write so much” about LGBT stuff? She thought I was being dishonest because I never talked about the father of my kids and how he and I were married for a long time, that I only seemed to focus on my life now with Karol.  I must say that really deflated me.  But when I out that post on Facebook I received a lot of positive comments, so I decided to continue.

However, apparently I was not feeling completely convinced, because I only wrote three more times between 31 Jan and 1 June.  Then something happened.  I was leaving work and driving home and just happened to put on my local National Public Radio station, WHRO, and a man was talking about a book he had written.  He was a comic and just happened to be blogging.  He really wanted to write a book, but also wanted to be paid, so he decided to just write every day for 100 days to see what happened.

During the 100 days of blogging, someone read his work and offered to publish a book if he wrote it. Now I have to apologize, even after researching it, I cannot find the name of the author or the book.  But I decided that I would try it.  I would write for 100 days and see if it took me anywhere or I had any monetary success, or if I even still wanted to write after I was finished.

Well, life happens, and I was not able to write every day, but I did find out something interesting.  I found out what blogging means to me. I found that I began to really enjoy writing.  I had ideas all the time.  I even out a recorder on the “front page” of my phone so I could just hit a button and record ideas when they came to me.  For some reason I think about a lot of topics while I am driving…..  I put a white board on the wall next to my desk so I could write down ides I got while I was balancing my checkbook or doodling around on Facebook.

But more important I found that I started NEEDING to write.  That it became soothing and cathartic.  That if I was not able to write I became cranky and felt compelled to get to my computer so I could write.

This week was no exception.  My bff the Newyorican needed my help this week, and since she is my sister of course I went to her aid.  But in doing so I missed my “writing time” which is in the morning as I sip my coffee.  This seems to be the best time for me to write because my mind is fresh, and the boys are sleeping or at school, and the house is quiet.  It is before classes, or homework, or other distractions.  I put on Pandora, and I write. I noticed I was cranky because I missed writing.  Hmmm, I didn’t expect that.

So what I have found is that to me blogging and writing have become a release.  a way to get things out that are swirling around in my head.  To ask questions and put things out there that are personal, and sensitive, and possibly divisive.  That may upset people, or cause some folks to get mad at me.  Or possibly cause someone to think, or learn something new.  I have written about my concerns about racial issues, about lesbian bed death, about my kids, and about my partner.  I love to write and have found something that feeds me emotionally mentally and spiritually.

I am a writer.

Jessica Hinton really says what I feel in my heart.  Thank you Jessica for these words!

Photo credit: http://www.jessicafhinton.com/
Photo credit: http://www.jessicafhinton.com/

What #NMOS14 means to me and my 15 year old son

I have always been more of a Facebook person than a Twitter person.  I didn’t often check my Twitter feed.  But for some reason last Tuesday, 12 August, I woke up and while laying in bed talking myself into getting up to make a cup of coffee I opened my Twitter and looked at the feed.  I saw that my 15 year old son “The Genius” had been tweeting….

a lot….

all night in fact.

He was tweeting angry things, and tweets with “bad” words. It was all about “#ferguson” and “racial injustice”.  I had not been watching any news shows the past few days, and I was not aware of what was going on in Ferguson.  So I went to some of the articles on his Twitter feed and I was shocked!

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  A young black man killed while he was unarmed?  Witnesses said he had his hands up in the air, yet he was still killed? Tear gas was being thrown at “rioters”? The images of the militarized police were astounding to me.

I couldn’t believe this was happening.  These pictures and videos were not from Gaza, or Israel, or Syria or Iraq or  any other place that is in the midst of a military  and humanitarian crisis.  It was happening in a small suburb of St. Louis!

I couldn’t look away from Twitter.  I started following Antonio French on Twitter so I could keep updated.  I couldn’t get myself to leave Twitter.  I was watching history unfold right before my eyes!

Then The Genius told me about #NMOS14.  This was an idea for a National Moment of Silence  started by @feministaJones on Twitter.  She wanted to get the whole country together to have vigils and a moment of Silence to honor victims of Police brutality.  To talk about what is going on in our country.  To honor those slain by police unjustly and unarmed.

My son and I knew immediately we would be attending this vigil.  Something happened to us at that moment. We became partners in a cause.  We didn’t even have to discuss it.  We just knew.  We knew that we would do whatever we could to help make a change.

We attended the vigil at Old Dominion University on Thursday August 14, organized by Rachael Payton, an ODU student who is passionate about making a change.  As the event started, she recited a poem she wrote that was inspiring and moved me to tears. We briefly chatted amongst ourselves and then at 7:20 we had a moment of silence together. A moment to honor those slain by police unjustly. A moment against police brutality.

photo credit https://twitter.com/13EricKane/status/500060050120257536/photo/1
photo credit https://twitter.com/13EricKane/status/500060050120257536/photo/1

Then Rachael opened the floor for comments, stories, whatever people wanted to share.  A young man (about 19 or 20) stood up and talked about an incident in his life where he walked from his house to a nearby 7-11 to get some claritin because his allergies were bothering him.  It was 12:30 am.  He purchased his items and walked home.  As he approached his backyard a police cruiser rolled up and stopped.  The officer in the vehicle shone his light on the young man.  The young man froze and did not move.  He remained that way for several minutes with the light trained on him.  He could see his house, the tv playing in his sister’s bedroom, the fence around the backyard.  He was no more than 40 feet from his home.  He said all he could think was that he might be shot, he might be killed.  Because he was a black man who had the audacity to go out late at night.  To get medicine.  He said another police cruiser rolled up behind the first one.  After a few minutes the light was turned off and the police officers simply drove away.  No words were spoken.  He was not addressed by the officers, just bathed in the white light of their scrutiny.  He continued on home.

There were more stories like this.  Stories about members of their families, or their friends, or themselves being targeted or questioned, thrown onto the hoods of police cars.  Detained for no reason.  Simply because of the color of their skin.  This MUST stop.  We MUST stop it.

I was moved to tears more than once by the stories I heard that night.  Stories both frightening and uplifting.  The solidarity in that room was palpable.  We had come together determined to make a change.  To affect our world in a positive way.  White people, black people, brown people.  Older people and young people.  None of that mattered that night.  What mattered was that we were human beings who shared a sense of obligation to affect a change!

On the way home my son told me that he wanted to continue working towards making a change.  He wanted to get involved in whatever way he could.  He said it wasn’t fair that as a white male he didn’t have to be scared walking down the street like black boys his age did.  He said he didn’t want to have his friends grow up and have to teach their children how to behave with police because of the color of their skin, due to fear for their lives.

I will continue to actively seek out ways he and I can work together to make these changes.  Because #NMOS14 is not about an event in history to me, it is about what we can do everyday to make this world a better place for ALL of us. This is what #NMOS14 means to me and my 15 year old son.

Will you join us?

It is a tragedy that we know more about Robin Williams’ death than Michael Brown’s death.

Robin Williams died on August 11, 2014.  He was a beloved actor and comedian.  The news was even more tragic because he apparently committed suicide and had a history of mental illness.  Depression is a terrible terrible disease.  What people show on the outside is not always how they present themselves, and depression kills.

Michael Brown died on August 9, 2014.  He was an 18 year old black man in Ferguson Missouri who was shot by a police officer.  He was unarmed. And according to several witnesses to the event he was holding his hands above his head in a gesture of surrender when he was killed.

We have heard intimate details of Robin Williams’ death.  We now know all about his marriage, his illness, his medical information, his assistant, and many other things.  Things that in my opinion should be private.

The Williams family is mourning the loss of a loved one.  Shouldn’t we grant them the right to mourn their loved one in private?  Shouldn’t we give Robin Williams some dignity.  All over Facebook I see tributes to Robin Williams.  Even Blizzard and World of Warcraft has gotten into the mix.  Apparently Robin was a player and there was a petition signed by over 11,000 gamers to have an NPC (Non Player Character) put into the game to remember him.  Now just to be clear I am an avid World of Warcraft player. However, I did not sign the petition.  Something about it just didn’t seem right to me.

In fact, I was unaware of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri until I read about it on Facebook on a post by The Bloggess talking about another unarmed black man shot by police.  So many of the comments were awful!  Racism is alive and well in this country, I am sad to say.

However, in sharp contrast to the abundant information about Robin Williams’ death, we have almost NO information about Michael Brown’s death.  We don’t even know the name of the Police Officer involved because the Chief of Police feels it will endanger him and his family to say his name.  We have been told this young man “reached for the officers’ gun.  Which is contrary to what the other man with him has stated.  An eye witness to the shooting who arrived on the scene after it began said she saw the Officer shoot Michael in the back, and then shoot him again at least two more times after he had his hands in the air.

I am a mother.  I have two sons. I am white.  I have a stark awareness of the fact that I don’t have to teach my sons about how to “not talk back to police”, and I don’t have to worry every time they go out with friends if they will survive the night. I do worry when my oldest goes out, but only because he is now at an age where he is driving and he is in the car with teen drivers.  That worries me. But it is NOT the same as worrying about whether your son will be killed simply because he is black or brown.

I am acutely aware of the fact that my sons can walk around our neighborhood at night with a group of friends and NOT worry about being hassled.  According to an article I read, a black man is killed by a police officer every 28 hours in America.  That is a startling number.  You can find the article and read it yourself. 

Why is it that a celebrities death is more important than an unarmed young man? Why do we know more about Robin Williams’ death than Michael Brown’s death?

Even in my local area of Virginia if you go to the Local TV station Wavy 10.  The top story in National news is Robin Williams wife saying he had Parkinson’s disease.  Below that is a story about President Obama talking about the Ferguson situation, and then some photos of the protests in Ferguson.  Can’t you do better than that Wavy??

WVEC channel 13 online is not doing any better.

By all accounts Michael Brown was a gentle young man who was leaving for college in a few days,  He was walking with his friend to visit his grandmother.

Michael Brown
Michael Brown

His death was senseless.

His death was brutal.

His death was needless.

His death was tragic.

Tonight my son The Genius and I will be attending a National Moment of Silence at Old Dominion University to honor those killed by police and to honor those victims of police brutality.  #NMOS14  Look for a vigil in a city near you!

We need to make changes here in America.  The killing of unarmed black men needs to stop.  Police brutality needs to stop. The Police should not so militarized.  This is the Unites States of America.  What has our country come to?

Please consider attending a NMOS14 even in a city near you.Let’s stand together against police brutality and racism!  Will you join me?