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?

Welcome to the world of participation trophies, self publishing, and mediocrity.

I saw a post in one of the writers’ groups. It read something like, “Editing is so expensive, is it really that important?”

Welcome to the world of participation trophies, self publishing, and mediocrity.

I have NOTHING against self publishing (or even participation trophies); however, there are many people who point to these as the problem creating people who don’t try, who don’t work for what they want, who don’t even try to shine.

Yes, there are published books, even from the big 5 publishers, with errors, and author’s cringe because authors work at their craft. They spend weeks and months reading over their WIP thousands of times. Their beta readers read it. Their editors edited it. They rewrote, and edited, edited, and edited for it to be letter perfect. At no time, do any of the authors I know, sit back and say, “eh, does the editing really matter?”

That’s where the real work takes place. That’s writing. Putting words on paper is only the very first part of the job.

The short answer is “yes, editing matters!” Do it yourself or spend the money.

There is far too much crap out there to sift through. If it is not something you feel will shine, win awards, of which you can be proud, put it in your bottom drawer. You can still tell people you’re a writer and your opus is in progress.

A fondness for 4am

4am

The world is different at night. Those early morning hours before the sun rises, it seems no one is awake, no one is moving around ready for the world.

Even if you live in a big city. Maybe you hear some far off traffic. A train somewhere in the distance. Still it seems the world is your private microcosm.

There’s not much one can do at 4am. There are no appointments to keep. No errands to run. No one to call. Polite society (and even maybe not so polite society) are, too, in their own little secular places.

It’s quiet, mostly. It’s serene. The crickets are quieting. The birds are stretching.

All there is to do is reflect, to write, to enjoy the chill in the pre-dawn air, and the peace that has not yet been disturbed.

It’s a special time for us, artists, writers, thinkers to belong. We are separate but together.

I’ll (not) see you there.

Writing Life

I called a friend out of the blue today. I updated her on the weirdness that is my life. People showing up, others moving away, the strange, the wild, the fantastical. Every one, a true story, replayed for my friend.

She commented, you always have so much going on.

I reflected, not by choice. But, doesn’t she? doesn’t everyone?

Maybe the way we talk about our lives is the way we write stories.

Her stories are gentle, calm, always well paced. Her imagination is vast, but her writing is serene, as if you were reading a swan.

My stories are varied. One day I’m writing about someone finding a gold tooth and the next I’m writing about Poe’s hauntings. Mine work at different paces. They surf from one side of the galaxy to the next. My readers are sometimes intrigued, sometimes put off. They like the story of a girl falling in love with a dog, but not the story of a girl talking to mirrors.

One reader wrote, “Who is Noreen Lace?” He’d read Eddy, then ordered How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party.

I guess this is me. There’s a lot going on. Remember what they used to say about the quiet ones? Still waters run deep. I’m not very quiet, not very still. I am the river that rushes around the corner and is calmed by the expanse. In some places, I’m deep enough to fall in and drown and, in others, I’m skimming over rocks, just slick enough to pass.

I can’t contain it. I can’t limit it. I can’t label it. And I won’t.

Where do you write?

I stumbled upon an article about writing space that I wanted to share.

I used to write, quite successfully, at my dining room table. I love the early morning light that comes through the window, not too bright until right after lunch – sometimes, I’m still writing and I have to draw the blinds.

From my dining room table, I can also view of what happens in front of my house. It’s minimal distraction. But just distracting enough for when I need to look up from any painfully blank pages. A neighbor walking a dog. A child riding a bike. My neighbor searching through the recycling bin.

I have a cafe style table. Far too big for my little space. A little taller than average. But it works when I get tired of sitting, I can stand.

The chair got hard to sit on. Back pain. Hip pain. The minimal cushion became even more minimal after so many days and hours and years sitting there.

I’ve thought about getting a little table. A table built for two – me and my computer – and set it right near the window – even closer than I am now. But would it be big enough for my tea? my snack? my stack of junk mail?

I changed my writing space to a proper desk. Big. Wooden. Dark. A drawer filled with paper, pens, stapler, and the like – whatever I might need. A nearby printer. A proper chair.

Yet, reading this article, I realized I’m nowhere near as productive as I used to be.

Starting tomorrow – it’s back to my table!

Where do you write?

Recharge, Recover, Release.

Recharge, Recover, Release

There are all kinds of tired. Some of which I sleep well, some of which I do not.

Sometimes I’m physically tired. I worked out. I hiked. I did enough manual labor to make my body exhausted. I sleep well on these nights.

There’s mentally tired. My brain wore out from working facts and figures into some sort of rhythmic sense in my world. Sometimes, on these nights, I do not sleep well. I’m disturbed, wondering if it formed into a smooth shape of being.

Then there’s emotionally tired. Dealing with people – angry, upset, unhappy, or even large groups of chaotic masses wear me out. I do not sleep well on these nights. I toss and turn, trying to work out the ugly aura left around me.

But – I never get any of those types of tired from writing. Writing is recharging, recovering, releasing. I let go of the day, the facts and figures, the angry masses, the physical exhaustion, and I’m able to create something that is life giving, soul soothing, and has meaning.

Writing is a way of living free from outside infections.

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Similar Topics:

Create to Relieve Pain

The Healing Power of Story

Healing Through Writing

The Haunting Effects of Childhood

I have refrained for the most part from talking about my family here or on social media. Family issues are a little taboo to talk about in public. Some people let it all hang out, others post angry messages and complaints, others take revenge by posting private messages or other things in regards to the family member with whom they are upset.

We’ve probably all had to deal with this at one point or another given social media and the desire for attention that it brings.

But if I am putting myself out there and trying to be as authentic as possible, I have to tell you I have family issues that go for miles and miles and miles. Books have not been written because no one would read anything so long and repetitive.

The very reason I seek joy and serenity these days is because my childhood was filled with incredible chaos. I back away from anyone who has a flair for dramatics that involve unpredictable antics. I will never go back and relive those days.

The problem most people face is repeating patterns because there is comfort in the familiar, even if it’s crazy.

But not for me. I start shaking. I get ill. I can not handle the chaos or the craziness.

The very sad thing is that some of my family members have not broken those patterns. Many people I knew from childhood passed too young. Some have chosen a path of chemical denial. Many have served time for their errors. Some continue those behaviors.

I got out. And I am thankful for that every day.

When one gets out, however, there is always an effort to drag them back in, drag them back down.

When I was young, considering college, considering change, one of my mother’s friends said, “Sounds like someone thinks she’s better than us.”

That wasn’t it. I wasn’t better than them. I just wanted more or maybe something different.

There are times I have experienced backlash. Harassing phone calls and text messages, threats and name calling – I continue to try to back away, block, lose those from my past who want to drag me down with them.

It’s been 30 years and 3000 miles. The past doesn’t want to let me go. The past, or those in it, are angry that they’ve been left behind in a misery of their own making.

ghost1

Change is hard. Change is scary. It needs to be continually worked. Some people are not up to the task, they don’t know where to begin, so they lash out at those who somehow found a way.

While my childhood most likely inspired my desire to write, and the chaos does lend fodder for writing, the craziness haunts. It’s a ghost whose touch, long and unyielding, chills me still.

Someday, there will be a book.

In Dreams

There is some magic that happens between midnight and three a.m. Words fall like rain, ideas bloom like tulips in the spring.

That state, somewhere between alpha and theta, when the mind is past meditation and drifting – freed.

Many nights, I wake filled with story. Sometimes I sit up and write, capturing those dream images and ideas. Other times, I hang on to the sweet theta mind and scratch notes to myself that I’ll decipher in the bright light of day.

There’s something quite lovely about theta, about that time of night. The world is soft and quiet. The world is ours and ours alone.

Writers are powerful in the dark, in the aloneness, capturing ideas that flutterby like butterflies.

Once, I fought a poem. The poem lay incomplete, begrudgingly sitting there refusing to become complete. I placed the notebook on the bed and fell asleep.

In a few hours, I sprang to wakefulness when the line in full form drifted by. I snatched it out of theta air and pushed it onto the page.

There, the poem complete.

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I woke up one morning with this story playing in the theta playground. I got out of bed and wrote until I had to go to work. When I got back from work, I finished it, edited it, and had it accepted to Pilcrow and Dagger almost immediately.

What’s a girl to do when her ex gives her a stray dog?

Of Strays and Exes – on Kindle

Gratitude

I am four, standing in the doorway of a pawn broker’s shop at the corner of E.152nd and St. Clair Avenue. My brother is kicking the door frame while my mother throws words over her shoulder. There’s a younger sister in the stroller next to my mother, and another in her belly. My mother is young, younger than I will ever remember.

She’s pawning her wedding ring – again – because we are out of milk and bread – again – .

I am giddy. Standing in front of my refrigerator. Grateful for a life in which my children will never go hungry.

Memories are said to play favorites. The more you think of one thing, the better you’ll remember it. The less you think of another thing, you’re likely to forget.

I rarely visit the past. Maybe I’m trying to forget. But there’s enough snippets left to keep me basking in gratitude for the life I have.

It’s all over now

The long covid winter has has taken so much. Our days languish. Our nights persist.

And I have adopted men’s pajamas.

The need for attractive shoes disappeared within weeks of the lock-down; the stylish pants and dresses went soon after. By summer, we donned our yoga pants and tennies. When the first chill of autumn blew the leaves from the trees, we switched to sweats where we have lived quietly, but not quieted, through the holidays – unveiling pretty sweaters in our above the waist zoom camera-shots.

January sprung confidence in the new year. But February rolled in, hope stilled in the cold snow, and it happened. The wind chill dropped and the dryer broke. Sitting on the coffee table, a forgotten gift, still wrapped – I tugged the ribbon and unpacked the thermal flannels. I studied them begrudgingly for a single moment before I slipped them on.

Warmth.

The lust for spring freedom is shackled. It can waste away in dreams now.

I have donned men’s pajamas and may never leave my writing desk ever again.