This is Not a White Karen Woman

I have to admit the whole Karen thing frightens me. As a white woman, I don’t want to end up on youtube for complaining about cold coffee on a hot day to a minimum wage struggling college student.

A few months ago, at a local shop, I got into line. As there were three lines, I chose the shortest line. This is practical and makes sense to me. Yet a woman in the longest line began to call over to me. “That line’s not open. There’s only one line. You have to go to the end of this line.”

I leaned over to the cashier – because I was only the 2nd person in that line – and asked, “Is this line open? Is there only one line?”The clerk appeared confused and glanced around, “No, there’s three lines.” I stayed in line.

The woman, yes, a white woman, probably middle class, bright eyes, lovely skin, hair in braids, got out of the long line to come over and inform me, once again, that there was only one line and that I needed to go back to the very long line because “it wasn’t fair.”

I told her I’d asked the cashier and, indeed, there were three lines. This annoyed the woman. She grew a little louder, more insistent, trying to engage me. I ignored her. I felt the click of cell phone cameras everywhere. She grew more insistent, “You can see how unfair this. You know you should go to the back of that line.”

I finally raised my hand between us and offered, “I will not engage with you.”

A gasp of disappointment rose to the ceiling. Wouldn’t the internet have loved that?! Two Karen’s going at it in a DIY while buying plants and pots, unneeded glassware, a light fixture.

It was early. I was tired. It was hot. I really did not feel like fighting because I was smart enough to get into the shortest line.

HOWEVER, sometimes I do want my coffee hot or my tea cold. I want to feel free enough to lean over the counter and say something, but I don’t want to be the next victim of Karen fame.

I guess, maybe, it’s the way we engage. I complained about a postal delivery. Not having any luck over the phone, I went in. I never received my package, but the post office maintained their “GPS proves it was scanned at my door.”

When I went in, the post master said, “I don’t know what to tell you, the GPS… ” I felt the cell phone cameras click on over my shoulder. I informed him what google said about gps’s accuracy limitations. He shrugged. “What do you want me to do about it?” I smiled, spoke softly. “Maybe find out who delivered the package and see if they made an error.” Another sloped shoulder shrug. I consider the postal shootings of the 80s. Even softer, even smilier, “You guys keep track of that, right? If you have gps, you know who scanned it.” I shouldn’t have to ask someone to do their job, but this is the world we live in.

I recently came across a cell phone video of a woman losing it at a fast food drive thru. I wanted to link it, but there are so many “Karen loses it at drive-thru” that I couldn’t find the right one. I did save a screenshot of the original when I saw it.

Officially, this is not a Karen. A Karen is defined as a middle class white woman upset because she’s not getting the privilege she believes she deserves. The woman pictured is most likely not middle class or upper middle class. Most middle class women do not dye their hair pink nor do they get out of their beaters to hang their bodies into a drive thru window and batter the tea dispenser while berating workers.

Everyone is posting videos of women (and men!) freaking out, and calling them Karens. Some of these “Karens” aren’t even white! Can we limit it? Find a new name? I feel bad for my friends named Karen – sweet, wonderful women. Who decided this Karen thing? Can’t we use Denise? I don’t know any Denise’s. Maybe Mable. No one’s named Mable anymore. Don’t those names signify a middle class white woman? Mable sounds nice though, she’d probably never freak out. And Denise sounds pretty calm, a Denise would probably never scream at a minimum wage clerk.

The woman in DIY didn’t seem like a Karen. Maybe a Kate or Jane, but not a Karen. The post master didn’t look like a Karen. He appeared to be a lazy Larry.

The truth is we’ve all been living in hell for the last 18 months. We’re all a little on edge. Some more than others. Some of the videos are obviously depicting people with a mental illnesses. Some people are dealing with that last straw – you know the one that broke the camel’s back? Humans have been stretched thin in the last FIVE years. We all lose it once in awhile. It’s terrible to take it out on others. But there are better ways to handle these outbursts than filming people at their worst.

I’m tired of the who Karen thing. Can we Bye Felicia it? Can we move on and make up something new now?

Hell in a Starbucks Cup

It’s been a year since I’ve had caffeine – and it’s been HELL!

Specifically, my signature black tea, and more specifically, sometimes a half a gallon a day!

I was sitting back today, calm as a koala on eucalyptus, thinking I should be doing something – like writing. And it’s been a year since I’ve had real flow.

That flow where you sit back and the ideas come. That flow wherein you read the news and see how each story can become a hundred short stories, a disaster novel, and a rom-com.

I consider how I used to sit at the dining room table, hot cup of black tea mere millimeters from my fingertips, and type like a hamster on a wheel. Go. Go. Go!

It’s the lack of caffeine – of course- which has caused my caustic dry spell. I glance toward the kitchen, knowing, somewhere in there, lies a discarded tea bag at the bottom of an unused drawer.

Screw the doctors! To hell with anxiety! I shall abandon caution and dive over the cliffs of caffeine haven.

I hesitate, like I do now while strung out on herbal bounty, and consider, weigh the pros and cons, and question my decision. Damn chamomile.

A knock on the door steals my attention. (Caffeine improves focus – pro). I pop off the couch and spring toward the door. (No late afternoon caffeine drag – con). I throw open the door. There, on my patio, a tower of chocolates.

SALVATION!

The Little Things

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that worms into the back seals of our functioning. loosening the stopper, and causing fissures which disrupt our well-being.

Most of those worms are so small, they are unseen to the human eye. We may not even know what is bothering us, but something is. Other times, we know it’s an insignificant movement which shouldn’t bother us.

But it does.

It creeps in, the leakage begins.

There’s a sense of right and wrong, good and bad, and someone or something has crossed that ethereal line.

They probably don’t even realize they’ve done it. For each of us those lines are different, sometimes wavy and indistinguishable.

I tell myself it doesn’t matter that the neighbor has left the end of their car hanging into my driveway or that the clerk has overcharged by a portion. But things like these seems to weigh on me more than they should.

Characters need such issues, such efforts; it makes them human, makes them relatable. We are not the only ones who become distracted at the off-centered tie clip, miffed at the chipped nail polish.

In Mirror People, Jewels reacts to Marnie’s odd behavior. It’s something that builds underneath. She’s not even certain what it is, but something annoys her. In Paperwasps, a whole city block falls apart, one person is perfectly content, yet another can’t deal – but What’s bothering them, really? Is it something that has seeped into their brain some time ago?

Introducing: The Red Wing Chronicles (A Stream Of Consciousness Personal Exorcism)

Love this book!

I really don’t know how many people read my blog posts. For the past year or so, at various times, I have posted several pieces with subtitles like “A stream of consciousness rant, or lament, etc. from “The Red Wing Chronicles (A stream Of Consciousness Personal Exorcism). This is my latest book- part memoir of my first 30 years or so, and part stream of consciousness rant. Stream of consciousness is a technique in which the writer’s thoughts are quickly rendered into written words with minimal thought or fermentation. James Joyce, Jack Kerouac, and Virginia Wolf have used this technique in various of their works and when it is successful it often is akin to a jazz improvisation in words.

Although the words often flowed, this was a difficult book to write. My childhood was hardly a pleasant one. It was rife with serious illness, bullying and family abuse. The…

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Passion

Today, listening to the soft roar of the waves while walking on the beach, I thought about life’s passions – that thing or those things a person dedicates themselves to until the day they die.

I heard a podcast about an 84 year old man who went on his 121st sunken ship treasure hunt. I remember the stories of Einstein on his death bed still working on his next theory. How wonderful to be that passionate about something that you don’t want to stop ever!

I want to live with that passion. I want to always look forward and be working on my next passion project. Some people wait for retirement to travel or write or follow their life’s desire. But I want to live every day bathing in that fervor.

While work and other projects sometimes keeps me from writing, I can’t completely blame those things. As a teenager, I wrote endlessly, not concerned with sales or promotion. These things, I’ve come to understand, are what temper my passion for writing. The idea of the work that comes after the publication. The work a writer must do these days.

There must be a happy medium. My goal is to live more in my passion. Just write.

Read, Write, Publish

Billy Collins – famous poet – says he published everywhere. Any literary journal that accepted his work, big or small, he was honored.

It’s wonderful to have your hard work recognized. My gratitude for all the literary journals which have published my work. And today – thanks to Jelly Bucket!

JELLYBUCKET.ORG

The Importance of Running Away

Getting away, even if for a day or a weekend, is so important to refresh the creative spirit. Whether or not you actually work or write on this get away isn’t the valuable moment – it’s a temporary respite from the usual.

Research shows “blue space” and “green space” (the beach and the woods) do our minds and bodies good.

Having not taken a trip in the last 18 months has left my spirit in a state of desolation.

Therefore, I took a drive up the coast and landed in Cambria. Cambria is known, I think, as a beach town, but I stayed tucked away in a little cabin in the woods – I got my green space and my blue space. I didn’t write so much as I walked, explored, meandered – but it was enough. It was a gift to my pandemic weary spirit, a reset. Ending the old, beginning anew. It felt nearly normal again.

I returned refreshed, ready for the school year to begin, ready to finish another story.

Runaway. Runaway often. Near or far. Explore. Unplug.

Things I Learned From a 2 Year Old.

Be determined!

Be excited.

Make the most of every moment.

Sing!

Gumballs can be used as marbles. (Use what works)

Play! (Park playlands make for a great workout!)

Spend the least time doing things you don’t like.

Laugh!

Don’t worry about what other people think.

Hug hard.

Nothing is really out of reach. (Goes back to where we started.)

*

imagine what we might accomplish!

Writing with Music

Some time during my teenage years, maybe I appreciated music so loud it pounded out reality and forced me to live in between the beats of the drum.

Mostly, however, I don’t want to live between those beats.

As much as I enjoy music, I enjoy the people around me just as much. When we are seeing a band or hearing a new song, it’s the conversation, ideas, opinions, and other things I want coming through just as evenly balanced.

Loud music subtracts – for me.

I know a number of artists, writers, and others who feel it is the very loud music that helps them escape and create.

But for me – the thrumping, bumping, strumming does not allow room for creation – or conversation.

I do enjoy the thick lovely tones of strong vocals belting out meaningful lyrics – but in moderation.

I’m a person who appreciates balance, creates within.

Life, however, can often be off balance – and I still must create. Maybe that’s why the things I can control – like volume – works around my creative efforts.

Blooming Ideas

I stumbled upon a video of Stephen King last night. In it he stated that he had the idea for The Dome in 1973, but he didn’t have the maturity to write it. The idea, he seems to indicate, needed to marinate.

I believe that. Some ideas need to marinate, form, develop. And sometimes we have to wait for more experience or more education to be able to make the story real, believable, and relatable.

Stephen King says he doesn’t keep a notebook (or at least in the short clip I watched), but that good ideas stick around. I, personally, keep a notebook. I also have sticky notes, journals, notes all around the house, in my desk, my nightstand, and occasionally in the kitchen recipe drawer (I don’t know how they got there!), and in different files on my computer. I like to refer back – and sometimes I find that an idea I had 5 or 10 years ago has come stuck around and developed into a story.

After my book Eddy was published, I found notes in files from long before that I’d completely forgotten about. Good ideas do stick around. But sometimes the memory plays tricks!

Eddy – on tshirts and mugs!