Squid Game and other Social Issues

Given the hype of Squid Game, I couldn’t be behind the curve, so I gave in to the propaganda and clicked play.

(SPOILER ALERT)

I sat to watch the first episodes and became mortified as Red Light/Green Light turned into mass murder. I suspected something of the sort. I am savvy enough to know no one offers strangers money for easy, peasy games.

Shocked by the horror, not only of that episode but the following episodes, I fast forwarded through the majority of those scenes. I did slow for the other scenes, what I would call the important ones – the relationship building, the psychology behind playing the games, but that was slow to come, hard to understand with the dubbing, and lack of real emotion in the actors or the voice-overs.

Besides being horrified that Netflix would buy such a series, I’m sad for our society. We, in literature, know this to be a fact: Literature affects society and society affects literature. Literature, in this case, includes media. It’s the consumption of entertainment.

When Julia Roberts appeared in Pretty Woman and was driven away by her prince charming in a white limo, thousands of girls across the country ran away from home thinking their hero would come in the form of a john.

When Gatsby was re-released, a flood of inspired fashions, jewelry, and Roaring 20’s parties came to the market and was still going strong before the pandemic.

Our society, right now, is in trouble. The shootings, road rage, assaults, and airline passenger incidents have increased dramatically. The mental stress of the threats to home and family from the pandemic, the lockdown, as well as the continued confusing and changing informational messages create anxiety for people already stretched to their limits.

Our society does not need a series about murder games. Our society needs healing.

After 9/11, the media sold the red, white, and blue. Products, shows, and news stations – American Pride elevated. In addition, shows and movies about angels and healing were released. Our country slowly healed.

We have choices in what to watch, but I see more negative than positive available across the streaming channels. While we have some comedies, some sci-fi, the vast majority of available shows and movies seem to involve guns and violence.

Hulu canceled Dash and Lily, a sweet show. Netflix did away with Love – a show about relationships. Shows which might offer a reprieve from the violence and horror are done away with while companies use our dollars to buy content they then convince us to watch. I would have never watched Squid Games – it’s not that good! – had it not been for the hype.

Perhaps, right now, media is reflecting society. But media also has the power to offer and influence our society with more wholesome, more loving, and productive content.

I’ve sworn off my crime and mystery shows for the time being. I’ve sworn off any show with guns and violence. If I want that, I’ll watch the news.

Our society needs healing and media has the power, and perhaps the responsibility, to give us more of those choices.

What Pain Teaches Us

While cleaning up my yard, I twisted my ankle on my half finished garden pathway. I paused, my arms still full, ankle still smarting, wondering if I could still walk on it. For the moment, it was okay and I finished my chore. I’d been meaning to get to that pathway for awhile now.

I had a lot planned that day. I had errands to run, the yard to finish, things around the house to take care of and to finish a big project planned for that evening- but my ankle swelled and canceled my plans.

I did what one is supposed to do in these situations. I whined about it. No, not really. I elevated my foot and iced on my ankle.

*The philosophy in yoga – listen to your body.

*An idea from the military – push yourself to stretch your limits.

*Some believe – train your mind to not feel the pain.

*Others feel – the Universe is sending you a message

So, I’m sitting in my bed, my foot up on a pillow, notebook in hand, wondering which I advice I should follow.

Then I consider my own take on pain: The learning curve. Pain is meant to teach us something.

Physical and emotional pain, without a learning curve, is a waste. People continue to commit the same errors over in their lives and continue to be hurt in the same ways because they have not learned what they needed to the first time.

Healing, real healing, must come with a lesson for us to not re-injure in the exact same way. I spent much of my young life experiencing those lessons over and over without the understanding of what I was to learn. Once I began to learn from my pain – I didn’t allow the injury to happen again.

Emotional pain can last longer and hurt more than physical pain. Emotional pain can take up residence in our bodies and even cause physical pain. We must work out emotional pain in some way – therapy, talking to friend, or just writing it down to free up that pressure.

Physical pain can affect us emotionally. Some experts believe that to be free of physical pain, we must deal with what is really bothering us.

Some years ago I injured my back in kickboxing. I engaged in physical therapy which didn’t completely alleviate the issues. I still caught myself wincing in bed, carefully moving throughout my day, unable to wear my favorite shoes and sometimes unable to bend to even put my socks on. I thought I might end up like so many whose movement is limited due to their physical pain. I mourned my previous active, kickboxing, yoga, hiking self.

I sat myself down and really asked myself – what is going on, Miss Yogi-pants? Yogies heal. Your mind over matter works. Your stretch beyond your limits has never caused this much pain – so what is happening?

In meditation, I realized that I so feared the pain, my body would tense up with any little movement which MIGHT cause the pain. It wasn’t that I couldn’t bend over – I was afraid of that pain and my body would tense up to save me from the hurt and then I wouldn’t be able to bend over.

Little by little I worked to release that tension, release that fear of the pain. In almost no time at all – the pain was gone. I still took some things slow. And I have to admit, my body (or mind?) decided my back did not like the repetitive jerking and twisting of gym kickboxing, so I limit that – but I’ve been able to do everything else.

Emotional pain works the same way – don’t you think? We are so afraid of the pain that we actually work backward and hold on to the pain by holding on to the fear.

We’re afraid of the unknown, so we make the same mistakes over and over. We fear being hurt, so we don’t try to move beyond it – we stay stuck because that’s safer than whatever is beyond this moment or this position.

What did my ankle teach me? I’m not sure. Not to procrastinate and finish the walkway in the garden? To take it easy before a big project? Or to push through to finish that big project – which is what I ended up doing. I wrapped my ankle, neglected my chores, and focused on the big project that I’d procrastinated on.

Maybe my ankle pain and momentary limitation was a wake up call to stop procrastinating PERIOD!

What Does Writing Mean to You?

It was suggested to me recently that I give up writing for awhile.

My mouth fell open and my eyes widened. “Give up writing?”

I was in shock. I jumped to defense, ready to tackle, grab the ball and run for the 50 yard line.

What would I do with all the voices in my head? All the characters who wrangle for a voice, the scenes that require breath to be brought to life? These are real things in writer’s heads. People, places, stories. Non-writers don’t readily understand that.

(I wonder what it’s like to live in a non-writer’s head? What goes on in there if there are no stories? Is there math? *Shudder).

Who in their write/right mind would “give up” their passion, their purpose.

She asked, “What does writing mean to you?”

I realize my defense is not really an answer. What does writing mean to me? I know what is used to mean – it was a survival mechanism. But it was more than that too.

I’m still working on it by the way – a current, present answer to what writing means to me. I just know I can’t not write.

Share with me please – what does writing mean to you?

Empathy and the Modern Human

Earth has been a pretty terrible place to be in the last few years. Only we can make it better. Each and every one of us can do our part in our little corner of the world. Because when we are better humans, it makes the world a better place.

I read an article recently in which Valerie Bertinelli was trolled – by another woman – who fat shamed her. Really? WTF is wrong with you that you have to troll one of the most beautiful humans on the planet?

Bertinelli says she uses empathy to deal with comments such as that.

Empathy is the answer, truly.

Empathy is the high road.

I have been dealing with some harassment on top of the death of a few family members. Recently, I received vicious snail mail by trolls I have had to block on every other platform.

When I consider the effort these people have taken to reach me, it makes me believe they are seriously unhappy in their own lives. I know I have not said or done anything to them to incur or engage their wrath. They’re just unhappy and need someone else to focus on. And that is truly sad.

Burt Bacharach said it best: What the world needs is love, sweet love. And empathy.

Empathy has been my inspiration. How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party is filled with stories of empathy.

Sending you love.

Can we be real honest here for a moment?

2020 was traumatizing, yes.

Then the spring culling of faculty was horrifying.

The death of friends and family,

then continued torment by people who are unhappy and unhealthy.

The past 17 months have been horrendous.

We’ve all been in some type of survival mode. We’ve all been hurt and scared and scarred. We haven’t reached out enough or we reached out and didn’t received a response.

We’ve been told over and over, this is the new normal, this is normal, now we’re getting back to normal.

The world is an angry place. Karens rule. Mass shootings. Building collapse.

Nothing is right. Nothing is normal. And it’s okay to be upset, to feel dismayed, confused, unsettled. Nothing about the last year and a half has been comforting.

And you’re not alone.

But

hang in there

we

will

all

be

okay.

Do you write better during the good times or the bad times?

During bad times, some writers seem to pour out a more substantial amount of work. If the pain and heartache are authentically transformed on the page, the work touches readers.

Some writers in history seemed to have sought out heartache and drama through alcohol, affairs, or other. As if their creative bent fed off their self induced suffering.

But a writer needs to produce when things go well, don’t you think?

I’ve heard of many “one-hit wonders.” Their first novel, fraught with the strain of life’s challenges, zings. But then, sitting back with their big, fat check, they are unable to produce.

My hardest times are relieved through poetry. As if words are squeezed out in some sort of rhythm that requires the concise, mystical format of a poem.

But I recall good times, great times, when my writing poured out too – the excitement of new challenges on the horizon lit up the page.

What do you think? Do you write better in good times or bad times?

Compliment Collage

We sit back, in hard times, and wonder – why do I do this?

Most of us write because we’re driven to by the tales and characters percolating over in our brains. We might go absolutely mad if we didn’t let it out somehow!

Compliments are rare in this line of work. Sometimes people will say they liked the book or give a good review, but it’s really very nice to receive an email like this:

“I also wanted to say that your story is very beautifully written and so impactful. I’m grateful to have read it.”

Isn’t that beautiful? Thank you. Thank you.

And, then today,

By the way, I really liked your story. It had an Edgar Allen Poe vibe.”

Woo hoo! Anyone who knows me understands that I am a Poe fan! I’ve written about, lectured on, and have done my own Poe – Cation

This particular story has not been released yet. “Ghost in Her Room” will be published in Dreamers this summer.

Hold on to those compliments, ladies and gentlemen! I think we need to post them, highlight them, make a giant collage and put it next to our desks for when motivation escapes us.

Summer Goals

I know we make new year’s goals, some of which we keep. This year, however, I decided to make summer goals.

Write everyday

Draw everyday

More yoga

Get out more – now that we’re out of quarantine

Start my back burner projects

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s a good start.

SMART Goals need to be specific, so I learned in the Psychology of Motivation class I took last semester. I’ll work on specificity as well as the other things noted in the YouTube video.

I would love to hear other people’s goals!

Time for a good book burning?

What do you do with all those old notebooks? journals? piles of notes?

How long should we keep them? forever?

I guess, there’s different things here. My old notes and notebooks full of ideas are floating in various places, saved for that some day I might mine them for good ideas.

Yet, there are other types of journals and notebooks – our personal ones. Does anyone every throw those away? burn them?

One woman told me she was sorry she threw hers away. She’d like other people to see them, read them, understand they weren’t alone in their thoughts and feelings.

Certainly, that is why I write. However, that is not why I keep a journal. And those journals, over the years, have piled up. I have nightmare images of my daughters reading them after I’ve passed, wondering if they should have committed me.

There’s probably some good mining that could go on in them, but I don’t want to reread them. They are the past, dark things best left there – aren’t they? Or do I use them, dredge things up, use them to add authenticity to my writing?

There’s plenty of me in my writing, my fiction. Need I add more? Or do I destroy the evidence?