Happily Ever After (Originally published to Plymouth Patch May 16, 2012)

A constitutional amendment to take away people’s rights – not the America I believe in. ~ Carol O’Brennan

What the hell is wrong with people?

Seriously? That’s not a rhetorical question. Okay, maybe it is a little.

Did a certain portion of this country sleep through the last forty years? Have they learned nothing from history? Back then we were fighting over color instead of gender. Guess what? Nothing they predicted has happened. Nothing. The world did not go spinning off its axis, hurtling toward the sun, to punish the sinners and miscegenators. God did not smite anyone. People of all colors and nationalities have been getting happily married and the world did not end.

Just as nothing will happen when same-sex couples are allowed to marry.

Listen, hate anyone you want but do it quietly, in your own home. Do not bring it to the public square for if you do, you will be held up and reviled as the bigot you are. Do not hide your hate behind your religion; it’s cowardly. Do not wrap yourself up in righteousness and argue that intolerance is a family value. It’s not.

Love is a family value and it should be encouraged and nurtured whenever possible. Celebrated. If we loved more and judged less, the world would be a much better place. Seriously, maybe you should try it.

Marriage has evolved over time. If you did not, then too bad for you. You don’t get to hold the rest of us back. For most, marriage is no longer about rival clans settling a dispute or an attempt to negotiate a merger or prevent a war. It’s not about gaining an extra pair of hands to work the farm or to acquire land or wealth.

Modern marriage is about love and making a life with a partner you choose.

Every marriage is unique. It has its own goals, its own hopes and dreams. I have been married for close to two decades and my marriage has matured and changed over that time. It has experienced happiness and sadness, regret and remorse. It has been both suffocating and liberating. It has been hard work but it has been totally worth it.

When I think about my life and my marriage and the joy and the balance that it brings me, I can’t imagine denying it to anyone and certainly not because they love someone with the same parts. Preventing people from achieving personal happiness is a much greater transgression than any sin you can manufacture to repudiate it. I feel a little sorry for those who can’t see that.

By refusing to recognize marriage as a right for all, we are, in essence telling every bully, bigot and would-be thug that it’s ok to single people out if they’re different from you or if they deviate from your cultural norm. That there exists in America, in the 21st century, a lesser class of American; Americans that can be denied the basic human dignity of deciding whom they want to make a life with; who to love.

I’m going to say this once and I’m going to say it slowly: Every single consenting adult has the absolute right to love the person of their choosing. They have the right to live their lives without interference from bullies and bigots.

They have the right to get married. Not civil unioned. Not gay married. Not same-sex married. Just married.

As in Happily Ever After married.

Just like me.

A Mother’s Way (Originally published to Plymouth Patch May 2012)

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle ~ Proverb

As mothers, we share the honor and responsibility for raising the future. It is up to us to advocate for the best interests of our children. It also means that if a child does not have a mother who can support them – for whatever reason – the imperative then falls to us, the moms who can.
I’d like to focus attention, however briefly; on the one issue that I believe is the most important opportunity we have to impact the lives of all children, everywhere. It crosses all boundaries.
We, as a country, need to reaffirm our commitment to quality public education. We also need to reaffirm our commitment to teachers.
Teachers are an integral part of education and they should be treated like partners. Recruiting and retaining smart, dedicated educators by making teaching an attractive and viable profession needs to start with a living wage. We need to stop making them the enemy and vilifying them as lazy and unproductive. Do bad teachers exist? Sure. But so do bad doctors and plumbers and parents.
Advocating for education is not a one-time deal. We will need to do it loudly and often. Investing in public education is not just about money. It’s about taking what works in the classroom and tweaking what doesn’t. We need to create partnerships in the community between parents and educators. We need to dedicate our time and talents as mentors and role-models. We need to empower teachers to spend more time teaching the fundamentals and less time “teaching to the test” and cowering in a corner practicing lockdowns.
I am not an expert on education or education reform. I am, however, a pretty keen observer and I trust what I see.
I was able to spend a lot of time in the classroom when my kids were in elementary school and I saw amazing things happen when teachers are able to develop relationships with their students. I have watched as children began to master near impossible tasks come away with increased self-esteem and greater confidence. Children, when encouraged to try in a supportive environment, will try, even if they fail. They begin to understand that learning is a process, a joy.
I’m not naïve enough to think that everyone will agree with me on this issue. Honestly, I don’t really care. I dare anyone to tell me that investing less in education is the best policy.
I’m not suggesting I have all the answers.
I don’t. But there are people, people smarter than me, who study education and understand how to fix it. We need to let them fix it but we need to make sure we continue to pay attention so things don’t get off track or completely derailed.
Reforming our education system will not come without a fight and progress will be frustratingly slow. It could, potentially, take a generation or more of reinvestment and reinvention of our public schools before significant gains are achieved. This is a long fight and it is not for the faint-hearted.
Together, we can change the world.
How cool is that?

Moving on

Well, it’s official, Patch and I are parting ways.

It’s been a really tremendous two years and I’ll always be grateful that I had such an amazing opportunity as a brand new writer. Some writers toil their whole lives and never get paid to do what they love. Me, they started paying two months after I started writing. So, go me!

What’s next? I hear you asking all the way from the future.

Well, I’ll continue to publish my blog but I’ve decided that this is a sign from the universe that it’s time to focus on finishing Restless and other stories that I’ve been neglecting (cough – Girls Like Us– cough). Also, several people have messaged me to ask if I had plans to lengthen Restless into a full-fledged book and since I have some new found free time I’ve decided that, yes, Restless will be turned into a novel or at least a novella.

Honestly, I’m a little relieved. It’s hard to come up with content every single week and since it was work, it took priority over all of my other writing. I can now concentrate on writing stories and updating the blog which is different from Patch, it’s informal. Continue reading

My terrible, awful, not very good week

Well, that seems like a bit of hyperbole since no one died and no one was maimed. However, my ego took a pretty good kick in the teeth. And since I have a wee bit of the drama queen in me, I decided the best course of action was to pout and then to write an entirely self-satisfying-stuart-smalleyesque blog about my own awesomeness.

I could rail about how unfair it is that I’m no longer featured on Patch but then I think about those poor Patch readers who are not on my facebook or blog and will have no idea how to find me. That makes me sad.

For them.

So, if you see them, send them to the blog. For their own sake. You’ll be doing a tremendous public service. Honest.

Then of course there is the writing contest that I failed to win. I know, right?! Outrageous! Hasn’t Pam gone through enough? To heap this disappointment on her. Who knows how she’ll cope!

I didn’t expect to win. After all, I’ve never written fiction before. But that didn’t make me feel any better when I lost. I was mad and hurt. How dare they not love me! Everyone loves me (and Pam). Continue reading