Category Archives: Reality Check

Two Weird Experiences and the Lessons That Came with Them


Hiya peeps!

I’ve had an interesting (last) week. Things have happened that have made me really think about what I want to do with my life and my career. I’ve done a lot of soul searching and I think I’m formulating a great plan that will allow me to accomplish my goals while contributing to the greater good. I can’t wait to tell y’all about it.

Next week. Later this week.

Sorry guys, but I have other things to discuss today. Don’t worry, they’re just as important and interesting.

And if not, you’ll definitely be back next week later this week to hear all about my plans.

<insert evil genius laugh here>

Anyway…

I want to talk about two things I experienced in the last couple of weeks that have made me wonder about the state of the world. I’ll explain and then offer commentary at the end.

On Mother’s Day, I was coming back from a trip to the store to pick up aluminum foil. We were having a cookout and you can never never have too much aluminum foil. As I drove, I noticed a man who was surrounded by scattered grocery items and a bicycle that was sitting on its side. I surmised that he had fallen off his bike and his purchases had been tossed during the fall.

There wasn’t any place for me to pull over and he was standing in front of a driveway so I had to drive to the end of the block, turn around in the gas station parking lot, double back and park in the lot next to the one where the man was standing. As I pulled into the lot, another car pulled in in front of me. We both got out and approached the man, both of us armed with an empty plastic bag. By the time we got to him, another  person was helping him retrieve his groceries. We joined in and helped pick up his items. The whole time the man just kept saying, “I can’t believe I fell over like that.” While we were rebagging his items, a car slowed down and lowered its window. A woman offered the man a canvass shopping bag. He tried to turn it down, but she said, “so you have something sturdier for the next time.” As we all walked away in our different directions, I felt like humanity wasn’t all lost and that humans still had a fighting chance.

And then I went to Sheetz.

Now, I’m not bashing the entire company. I’m not even bashing everyone at this particular location. But I am bashing one employee from now until the next 6th Saturday in June. I ordered food online from Sheetz. As I was leaving to pick it up, the daughter’s boyfriend asked if I would grab him a beer. I said “sure,” he handed me the money, I left and headed for the store.

I get there, and it’s business as usual. Lots of teens and 20-somethings. Gas and oil workers grabbing their greasy food and cases of beer. Exhausted looking parents getting gas and snacks and doing a last potty break before getting on the road.

I get in line so I can pay for my food. There’s three or four black guys in line in front of me. Probably Diva’s age, or a little younger. Well one of them apparently didn’t have an id, so the cashier refused to serve any of them. They were annoyed and disappointed, but they weren’t making a scene.  While I was waiting in line, I remembered I actually wanted a raspberry ale, so I jumped out of line, got my ale and got back in line. At this point, the guys had left.

I get to the counter and I pay for my food and alcoholic beverage. The cashier was pleasant enough to me, but I could tell he was agitated about the previous customers. At this point the guys had left the store and were outside, standing by what I am guessing was their car. The cashier gave me my receipt and I ventured to the food side to wait for my order.

Once I had my food and was leaving, I realized that I forgot to buy J’s beer. Not only that, but I had left his money for his beer in the car. So I went to my car (which was parked directly in front of the doors), dropped off my stuff, grabbed J’s money and went back into the store. I walked directly back to the beer cooler, grabbed the beer and walked straight to the checkout. I said, “Okay, this is the last time you’re gonna see me in this line.”

And then then wheels fell off the bus.

Cashier: Sorry but I can’t sell this to you.

Me: Why not?

Cashier: Because if one person in the group doesn’t have ID, then I serve anyone in the group.

Me: What group? I came here by myself.

Cashier: I saw you talking to someone outside. I can’t sell this to you.

Me: No, you didn’t see me talking to anyone outside because I didn’t talk to anyone. I went to my car which is (pointing out the door) right there, dropped off what I had already purchased and came directly back in to buy what I forgot.

At this point, the realization of what he was implying set in.

Me: Oh, I get it. Since there’s a group of black guys and I’m black, we must all be together, right? So, I’m buying this one, lone 40 ouncer so they can pass it around among tbemselves?

Cashier: I can’t sell this to you. You can get as violent as you want, but it’s not going to happen.

Admittedly, I was mad. But violent? Seriously?

Me: There is nothing violent about me. I’ve said nothing violent, I’ve just called you out on your racist profiling. Funny…you didn’t have an issue with selling me the ale, but the beer is a problem? Why? I can’t drink a 40? You said you saw me talking to someone outside? Point them out. Where are they? You’ve got cameras? Let’s look at the footage. Show me who I was talking to. Please, I’m dying to know!

At this point, the manager comes over and asks what’s going on. The cashier tells him that he saw me talking to someone outside and because of that, he doesn’t want to sell me the beer.

Manager: Sorry ma’am, but if someone in the group doesn’t have id, no one in the group can be served.

This again. So, once again, I explain that I came in alone, made a purchase alone, realized I forgot to buy the beer came back in (say it with me) alone and was trying to make this last purchase…alone.

Me: And like I told the cashier, if you’ve got footage of me talking to someone during the 15 seconds it took for me to walk to my car, grab money and reenter the store, then I’d love to see it.

Manager: (looks at cashier) go ahead and sell it to her.

Cashier: (shakes head and backs away from the register): If you want to sell it to her, then you ring her out. I’m not a racist.

Me: Maybe you aren’t. And if that’s the case, then stop acting like one.

So now I’m boycotting this particular Sheetz location. I have no problem with a store adhering to an underage drinking and tobacco purchase policy. But I do have a problem with someone who uses that policy to be a douche at best, racist at worst.

So, my takeaways from these two encounters:

  1. there are still good people in this world who see the good in others and are willing to come together for a common goal.
  2. There are still jerks in this world who will look for any reason to promote a stereotype or make negative assumptions…and then lie about it to cover their own butts.
  3. The gas station down the street from Sheetz has the same beer.

Later this week I’ll be back with some announcements and to fill you in on some other things going on with me. Until then, have a good week! 🙂

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Why I Detest “All Lives Matter”


When the #BlackLivesMatter movement first gained momentum, it was quickly followed by the response, “All Lives Matter.” For the longest time, that response bugged me, but I couldn’t figure out why.

Then it dawned on me.

It was like telling someone who had just lost their home to a fire, “Yeah, well so-and-so lost their house last month and such-and-such lost their house two days ago. Why are you special?”

Well you’re special because right there…at that very moment, it was happening to YOU. You wanted someone to reach out and help YOU in your moment of pain. You wanted someone to put an arm around you and say, “It will be okay. We’ll figure it out.”

THAT is why “All lives matter” is the LAST thing you should say in response to “____ Lives Matter.” Doesn’t matter which lives we’re talking about. It’s dismissive to any and all of them. So quit saying it.

So, what can you say instead? Let me help you out:

#Black Lives Matter

Response: You’re right, they should but to some they don’t. We’re going to figure out a way to make it so they do.

#Women’s Lives Matter

Response: You’re right, they should but to some they don’t. We’re going to figure out a way to make it so they do.

#LGBT Lives Matter

Response: You’re right, they should but to some they don’t. We’re going to figure out a way to make it so they do.

Get it? From now on, every time someone trots out All Lives Matter, I’m linking them to this post. Because I’m like my father, I don’t like to repeat myself, and I’ve been beating this drum for far too long.

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Free Speech Does Not Exist


Yes, you read that correctly. There is no such thing as free speech. There was never supposed to be such as thing as free speech.

“But Kim,”  your shocked voices are screaming, “there IS free speech. It’s covered by the First Amendment!”

Um…No, it’s not.

Freedom of speech is covered. Freedom to say what you want and not be persecuted by your government is covered. But as the Great Haired One and many others have recently found out…

Speech is not free. You are free to speak about almost anything you choose in this country.

  • Democrats and Republicans can insult each other as much as they want.
  • The KKK can leave fliers anywhere they want, even in a black neighborhood (though I think they’ve missed their target demographic).
  • People can stand on sidewalks wearing sandwich signs stating “Repent: The end is nigh”
  • I can write this blog post.

But for every phrase you speak and every line you utter, there is a cost. For you see, although you are free to say what you want without fear of government persecution, Freedom of Speech does not protect you from the court of Public Opinion. And sometimes that court doesn’t side in your favor.

So, the next time someone says, “It’s free speech!” remind them it’s FREEDOM of Speech that’s free. Free speech costs extra.

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46(?)/46/46 – Day..um…


Okay so I’ve been sick and therefore I have no idea what day this is supposed to be. I’ll figure it out tomorrow and adjust accordingly.

Today..ahem…this morning I want to talk about caving to the collective. But before I do that, a confession:

Hi, my name is Kim. I’m a writer who doesn’t like word games.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

I know that as a writer, games such as Scrabble(tm) and Boggle should be my favorite games ever…

Yeah, not so much.

But when you have 800+ Facebook friends, and 700 of them are writers, you get a lot of game requests.

A lot.

Most of the requests are for word games. For the most part, I ignore the requests. But after a while, it begins to feel impolite, and if Mary Belle taught me anything, it’s that you should never be intentionally rude.

So, I caved and added a word game….

image

It’s really the only game I can tolerate…don’t know why and it’s probably best if I don’t try to figure it out.

I used to play this quite often, but then I quit. Not sure why, probably another candidate for “don’t ponder too much.” It seems many of you were waiting for me to take my turn.

My bad.

Anyway, I’m now playing a word game again. You can can stop with the disapproving stares and take down the petition to have my writer card revoked. Mea culpa…I am officially one of you again.

You’re welcome.

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46(?)/46/46 – Day #8: Drama Llamas…the only animal that needs to become extinct


I have nothing to say.

Actually, I have plenty to say, I just can’t say any of it at the moment.

Why? Because I have “friends” who are posers and are attempting to cause issues for me. FYI, I know who you are, and you will be dealt with when the time is right. Until then, certain subjects are off the table.

You know, you’d think that people would have the guts to confront a person to her face if there’s a problem. But, obviously some people don’t have the guts to do that, so they go behind a person’s back and whisper crap in other’s ears. The only thing worse are those who believe what they are being told and never bother to verify anything.

Anyone who knows me realizes I am about as transparent as you can get. I don’t hide my emotions. First off, my face gives me away every time, and second, I don’t see the point in hiding them anyway. If I don’t like something, I don’t like it. If I love something, I love it. If I have no opinion, I have no opinion.

Oh hush, it has too happened. LOL

Anyway, I’m pretty incapable of hiding my feelings, which means unless you’re completely clueless, you know how I feel about things about ten seconds (if I’m distracted) after you mention it. So, there is NO REASON to make up or guess how I feel about an issue. Ask me. You’ll know while the question is still hanging in the air. There’s no reason to speculate or guess.

But some people just like to cause issues. They like drama. It’s more fun to spread rumors. I don’t know if these people realized the problems they were causing, but thanks to them, I’ve a mess to clean up and I don’t really appreciate it.

But anyway, that’s all I’m going to say about things. As soon as things are straightened out, I’ll go back to my regularly scheduled zany posts. Until then, this blog is probably going to be a whole lot of nothing about nothing. Sorry y’all, blame the idiots with too much time on their hands.

46(?)/46/46- Day #7: This post…


Simply acknowledges that the day existed. If I could erase it from my memory I would. Tomorrow is bound to be better, so I’m going to focus on that. Till tomorrow…

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What I learned in logic class…


When I was an undergrad, I took a philosophy/logic class. On one of the professor’s first exams, he asked this question:

“Why?”

No one got the answer right.

As we went through the semester, the answer he was looking for became more clear. When the professor posed the question on the final exam, we all got it right.

The answer: Because

Many of us are still reeling over the events of Friday. Many are angry. Many are gut-wrenchingly sad. Many are asking “why?” What would make a person do such a heinous thing?

These are fair questions, but in the overall scheme of things, the concrete answers don’t matter, and more to the point, we will never know, since the only one who could provide the answers is no longer here.

So we are forced to live with the fact we will not get the answers we want. Notice I said want, not need. We already know what we need to know, we just aren’t willing to accept it.

We know 20 families are not tucking in little ones tonight.

We know 27 families are making funeral arrangements tonight.

We know several dozen parents are living with the agony of outliving their child

We know children have lost their parents.

We know too many people died on Friday.

We know all this, yet we still ask why.

Well…

Because there has always been craziness on the planet.

Because there has always been evil in this world.

Because it is human nature for a person in pain to strike out at others, to not only inflict pain, but as a desperate attempt to lesson his own.

I don’t know if Adam Lanza was crazy, evil, in pain or a combination of the above. What I do know is that we are wringing our hands and banging our heads against the wall, trying to figure the “whys,” when the answer is simple. Painfully simple:

Because he wanted to

Because he could

Because he did

Because

The Great American Debates have already started. Both sides of the gun issue will be bantering back and forth for several weeks, both pointing fingers and sharing pearls of wisdom such as “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” and “If guns were banned, this would have never happened.” The religion debate will heat up, with school prayer being trotted out again (Yeah, I know, already happened.) Others, I’m sure, will find a way to make this tragedy work for their niche political agenda.

But if these are the only takeaways we get from this horrific event, then we’re doomed. Because even in our darkest hours, there are still rays of light and hope. Platform people can demand changes until they are blue, but those changes won’t make the crazy sane or the evil disappear. You can’t legislate it,  you can’t will it out of existence, but no one wants to talk about what could be done about it.Sure people want change, but the proposals are cosmetic. (I’m avoiding the political aspects right now…)

So, the best we can do (for now) is realize that these things exist and live our lives knowing that at any given moment, crazy and evil can land on our doorstep. That does not mean we are to go trough our lives in fear. It actually means the opposite. We should embrace every day and everyone we care about. None of us knows when we will speak our final words to someone, kiss our last kiss or give our last hug to those we love.

Because none of us are promised a tomorrow.

Because bad things happen

Because we’re all human

Because

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A Sad Anniversary


I’ve spent the day working and looking up at a picture on my wall. It’s of my dog, Harley. Harley crossed the Rainbow Bridge a year and a day ago, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. He was a special dog, and I loved him dearly.

He was the kind of dog that waited until all the other dogs were done begging for attention, and then he’s tug on your shirt for his turn. He never wanted to play fetch, but enjoyed taking long lazy walks. And he rarely barked. When he did, it was a shockingly deep bark, especially for a dog his size. He was just starting to really grow before he became ill. I often wonder how big he would be now.

His place on the bed was either in the small of my back with his head on my hip, or with his head flopped over my shoulder, nose almost poking me in the ear. His hot dog breath used to drive me bonkers. I’d shrug him away, only to awaken several hours later with him in the same spot.

He was pretty much a loner. When all the other dogs would be snuggled up against each other, or playing together, Harley would often be off to himself. Or curled up in a ball under my desk. I think that’s why I had such an affinity for him, he marched to the beat of his own drummer, just like me. If he followed any of the people in the house, it was me he followed. If he was in one of his stubborn moods, I was the only one who could get him to behave. I was his people.

One of the biggest regrets of my life was not being with him during his final moments. I had gone out to get him more meds, and by the time I got back, he was gone. From the looks of things, I think I missed his passing by mere seconds. I scooped him up, told him I loved him and cried over him for what seemed like forever, but was really maybe 15 minutes. Saying goodbye to him was agonizing. Before we removed him from the house, I snipped some of his fur. It sits on the mantel, in a small vase.

I want to believe that Harley knew how much I loved him. He was special. He was unique. He was beautiful. He was mine.

But not for long enough.

I hope you’re frolicking, happy and free on the other side of the Bridge, Harley, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t wish for just one more day with you. Just one more chance to shrug you off my shoulders. Just to feel you tug on my shirt one more time…

RIP, my friend. Until we meet again…

 

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Be Less Racist – Eat Less Chicken


I’ve been pretty busy with work, so I haven’t had time to blog, but some of the events that have unfolded over the last few days have prompted me to jump back up on my soapbox for a few minutes. I’m going to make a couple of statements, then expound on them. Ready?

Okay…here we go.

Statement #1: Chik-Fil-A can support whatever it wants.

Like it or not, they are free not to support same-sex marriage. They are free to be a religious-based organization. They can choose to only recognize traditional marriage standards. You can boycott them. You can march in front of their restaurants and call them homophobic, evil or whatever you want. But it’s not going to make a difference. Beliefs that deeply rooted are not going to change because of a few picket signs or angry letters to the editor. I would bet the farm that Cathy et al would close the franchise down before they would change their stance. So, don’t waste your energy. Express your disdain by driving past the restaurant and eating someplace else.

Or you could send everyone you know to a Chik-Fil-A, then have them donate a dollar to a local Gay rights advocacy group as penance.  And don’t forget to let the restaurant know you did so.

Statement #2: Racism is alive and well.

Many of my friends seem to be shocked by this revelation. It makes me smile that some of my friends are so pure of thought that these things don’t occur to them, and it makes my heart sad when I have to point this fact out to them. I wish I could have the same idyllic attitude, but alas, it seems my reason for being is to be a litmus test and sounder of the alarm for others. I’m okay with that. But please, when I tell you that outside of your immediate scope, there are people who still hate on the basis of skin color, I’m not trying to be mean. I’m your reality check. No more, no less.

But the debates from the last few days have made me question things, and so, I am going to throw the big question out there: Fifty years ago, would we have been friends? Would you have supported my right to sit where I want on a bus or in a restaurant, or would you have complained that I had an “agenda” as I was fighting for my equal rights as a black person? Or go back further in time — would you have objected to my agenda to have equal rights as a woman?

No?

Maybe?

How are those fights any different from the one being fought now?

Now, before you tell me, “but it’s not the same thing, you’re comparing apples to oranges,” let me stop you. You’re right, they are two completely different issues.

But they are still both fruit. Fruit born from the same seed of ignorance and intolerance.  Just as the fair and equal-minded had to shout down the detractors to equal right for women and blacks then, the same thing is happening now.

Speaking of detractors, let’s talk a moment about Obama haters.

No, I don’t mean those who oppose President Obama’s policies, I mean those who hate the man.

Dislike his policies all you want. Call him out on what you perceive as a lack of experience and inability to run the country. I got no beef with that.

But those of you who hate him because you hate the idea of a black man being in the Oval Office, I’m onto you, and I will call you out whenever I encounter you. I’ve got a big booming voice, and I’m not afraid to use it.

Because if I let you hate him and remain silent about it, it is only a matter of time before you start hating me. Because I’m black. Because I’m a woman. Because I fit some other stereotype you hold dear to your heart.

So, now, friends,  maybe you understand my frustration with some of the things that have been said over the last few days. For some of you, it’s just idle chatter with no immediate implications. But for me, it is so much bigger than that. I cannot allow anyone  to roll back time and force me to fight for my rights all over again. Not gonna happen. Not while I’m still breathing.

 

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New Directions


For the last few days, I’ve been contemplating my career and where I want it to go. As a writer, there are many avenues available to you — provided you are willing to do the work and learn that particular part of the craft. In my almost 20 years in this biz, I’ve tried my hand at fiction, journalism, article writing, column writing, copywriting, general writing (business plans, marketing plans, grants, white papers, etc.), content mills and web writing.  In other words, I’ve pretty much been there, done that.

Except for plays, movies and television scripts. But it’s on my list.

I’ve published a book, I’ve written an award-winning column and I’ve written things that brought me praise and criticism galore. I’ve written some things that make me cringe, and I’ve written things of which I am extremely proud. I have enjoyed almost every minute of my writing career.

But now I feel as if I’m at a crossroads. I love writing for a living, I really do…

But I don’t want to do it anymore. At least not how I’ve been doing it recently.

A friend gave me The Renegade Writer as a gift this past Christmas. I’m not a huge fan of how-to or self-help books — I’m a firm believer that the only way to learn to do something is by doing it. No book can replace the knowledge you gain from the “Nike” approach. The book has been sitting on the corner of my desk since the day I unwrapped it — but for some reason I picked it up and starting thumbing through it yesterday.

In each chapter, there are sections called “Break this rule.” I started reading those because, well, I am a rule-breaker.

It turns out that a lot of what they advise I’ve been doing instinctively for years.

Now, you’d think this would make me feel better. Make me feel like I’ve been on the right path.

Nope. It really made me sick to my stomach.

Cuz, the last few years, I’ve been ignoring my instincts in exchange for making a decent living. And now I wonder — if I had stuck to my path all those years ago, where would I be now? Would my byline be in Forbes, or Women’s Day or Inc.? It’s not even about the bragging rights — it just made me realize that as a writer, I could be so much further along than I am, and it’s hurts like hell that I’m the reason I’m not where I could be.

But that all changes tomorrow. I’ve still got a couple of steady clients that keep food on the table and a roof over my head, but I’m done chasing after more of their ilk. If I’m going to do this, I either need to go big or get the hell out of the game.  The publication studying and query writing starts tomorrow. My goal is to make it into a National magazine before the end of the year, if not sooner.

I’m going for the big time, folks. Wish me luck.

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