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In the Firefly universe, the crew of the Serenity was always trying to avoid Reavers, the ones that had an adverse reaction to their environment and lost their damn minds, giving in to hate and every vile impulse that comes with it.

It’s hard to avoid them in this world, though. They have jobs and pay taxes. They’re raising children. They hold rallies at our universities and on our town squares.

Oh…is that harsh? My bad. Full disclosure – if you need me to be gentle about this, you are not going to like what I have to say here.

I have tried. I have been reading the news and scrolling through social media and racking my brain to find a gentle way to say this, but I have come up empty.

Gentleness is just not an appropriate response.

I would find it curious if an outspoken white supremacist enjoyed reading my blog. Maybe we have the same taste in food? But if you are reading this and are a person who attends white supremacist rallies or sympathizes with those who do, then this post is for you. You wanted attention, and for the next few paragraphs, you have mine. Congratulations, I guess.

I know in my head that you are as fully human as I am, but I have a difficulty seeing any trace of humanity in how you think and act. You may have an endearing characteristic, but I cannot see it through the stinking fog of your white supremacist beliefs. This is not a difference of opinion. I will not agree to disagree. White supremacy is evil and detrimental to the world.

I believe in a God who can redeem anyone, but I also believe that God waits for people to turn their hearts in repentance before doing so. I harbor immense cynicism that you have the willingness or maybe even the capacity to repent.

I agree with Nelson Mandela that no one is born hating whole chunks of humanity. I also know from personal experience that viewpoints that are revealed to be false and bad behavioral habits can be unlearned. In order to have those experiences, however, I have to be open to them, and I don’t see that openness in you.

But just in case I am wrong (and I hope that I am), I have a little advice on how to begin.

[One of my limitations in this conversation is that I don’t know how to fix this without Jesus. So if atheist friends or friends of other faiths want to give advice on where to start, please feel welcome to do so in the comments.]

Since it seems that most outspoken white supremacists, particularly in the southern regions of my country, profess the Christian faith, let’s start there.

That you are wrong about this is not up for discussion. You are wrong. Period. Get on your face before the God you serve and repent. Ask God to help you change. Beg God to help you change. Do not let go until God answers you. Do this every day until you no longer hate the people you hate today.

Next, I know you are really good at being angry. Anger is not wrong, but it needs to be pointed in the right direction. Get angry at white supremacy. Get angry at how it invaded your mind and heart and warped your soul. At some point, were you forced to choose between outwardly embracing white supremacy and being disowned by your family? Doesn’t that make you furious? Lean into that fury. Turn your hate toward this mindset that poisoned your life and every relationship you have. When change seems hopeless – and there will come a time when it does – that anger may be the only fuel that keeps any hope of redemption alive.

I and many others have a lot of ideas on where to go from there, but frankly, I would be surprised if you ever bother to get to this point.

So that’s what I have to say to you. Change. Start to do so immediately. You want to be a person who deserves to be heard? Become a person who says and does worthwhile things.

Super

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Incredibly, this is the closest thing I have to a picture of me in a cape.

I really like knowing things. And I like being helpful. These are both good traits by themselves. But with their powers combined, they can be really annoying.

In conversations, I will often give advice. Sometimes, it’s welcome, and it’s a positive experience for both of us. But other times, I know as soon as I say it, it’s unwanted. One might think that at this point I would stop talking. Unfortunately, one would be mistaken. Despite the clear signs of disinterest – the pressing together of the lips, the glassy eyes, the faltering eye contact – I storm straight ahead, not exactly oblivious but not quite sure how to make my mouth stop moving.

It doesn’t help that my career choices act as enablers. No matter what my job title is, I tend to end up in the role of teacher or trainer. I like teaching, but when imparting knowledge is your job, it’s sometimes hard to shut those floodgates.

My habits are enablers, too. I read voraciously, broadly, and deeply. My side hustle is SEO writing, which requires me to learn about things I normally wouldn’t choose to learn, like car parts and marine cargo insurance. When I read the news, I try to read from various sources that lean toward different parts of the political spectrum so that I can pull out the things they agree on (that’s the news – everything else is commentary) and wrestle with my own conclusions. I like reading the work of writers and journalists who are similar to me, but I learn more from reading the work of those who aren’t, so I try to keep a healthy balance of both.

Most people will say reading is a good thing, and I agree and also love it, so I’m not going to stop. But when someone is talking about a topic I’ve read a lot (and thus thought a lot) about, it’s excruciatingly difficult not to interject my two cents, even if it’s clear they aren’t interested in it.

Hello, my name is Suzanne, and sometimes I act like an insufferable know-it-all.

[Aside: I only consider this a weakness concerning unwanted advice. If you ask my advice, I will give it, and I will give it thoroughly, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Fair warning though – if you ask for my advice a lot and consistently don’t take it, that might be my kryptonite – the one thing that can make me refrain from giving you advice at all. Don’t be an askhole. I mean, you have the right to live your life and make all your own choices, free of my input (which, frankly, is a lot healthier than depending on me – or anyone – to tell you what to do). So if that’s what you want…do that and quit asking what I think.]

[Aside P.S.: If you are wondering if the statement above is about you, rest assured that if it is, I have already said it to your face. Possibly in those exact words.]

Occasionally, though, there comes a golden moment.

I’ll be rambling on about what they should do, see the signs that they aren’t open to what I’m saying, and manage to stop. They’ll usually proceed – cautiously – and when it’s my turn in the conversation again, I get to ask them questions about the things they said so that I can really understand where they’re coming from. Once I’m able to catch myself, it’s pretty easy to shift back into the role of listener. Because at its root, listening begins with gathering information.

And I’m super at that.

My #24in48 Recap

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*theme music to Rocky playing in background*

I have been excited about this weekend since I heard about it in early July, and it lived up to my every expectation. The only way this weekend could have been better is if I had taken my books to a hotel with good room service near a beach. Maybe next time.

To prepare to read for 24 of the 48 hours in a weekend, I gathered a lot of books. I expected that I would read a little bit from most of them, switching things up as my attention waned. This was not the case for most of the time, though. I finished A Year in Provence, and then I savored Milk and Honey, reading it slowly and in the case of some of the poems, over and over. I finished the day (erm, next morning – it was definitely after sunrise when I went to sleep) devouring Love, Loss, and What We Ate. My reading on day two, however, was a little more like I’d planned. I listened to most of Roxane Gay’s Hunger on audio while cleaning, read the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay and Nayyirah Waheed, and spent a half hour here and there on several other items on my read-next list.

What I learned from reading all weekend:

  1. Is there a job where I can do this all the time? I feel like I’d be fantastic at it.
  2. 24 hours, even with breaks, is a loooong time to sit. Fine. I relent. Audiobooks can be your friend.
  3. It’s been really easy to eat well this weekend. It turns out that holding a book distracts me/keeps my hands busy enough that I don’t eat mindlessly. I’m almost annoyed that my secret to eating better is something as fun and simple as reading a lot. It seems I could have figured that out a while ago.
  4. I need poetry. I’ve been super stressed out lately, but halfway through Milk and Honey, I was completely relaxed. And those are not exactly soothing verses. There’s something about the way poetry captures language that slows me down and quiets me. I prescribe more poetry reading.
  5. I can’t speak for all writers, but for me, reading inspires writing. In addition to reading for a whole day, I have written more – poetry, my fiction WIP, future blog posts – this weekend than the rest of the days this month combined. I’m thinking of starting a practice of one wordy weekend a month. Oh, introvert bliss!

I loved this weekend. It was just what I needed.

 

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This is how the best dinner parties start.

“Which five bookish people (or animals, I’m not picky) would be around your perfect literary dinner table?”

  1. Britt-Marie, from Britt-Marie was Here. She would be right on time, and she would approve of my cutlery drawer. We could be nerdy about that together.
  2. Ernest Hemingway. I would seat him next to Britt-Marie. They would either go to great lengths to hold each other in detached but respectful regard or they would despise each other, resulting in her prim, passive-aggressive jabs and his outright roguish responses. Either way, entertaining for all. Dinner and a show.
  3. Peeta from The Hunger Games. He would be a charming, polite dinner guest. Someone to balance out the chaos happening across the table. Also, he would probably bring fresh baked bread.
  4. Mark Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. But only if he looked like the Colin Firth version. Because Colin Firth.
  5. The Dormouse from Alice in Wonderland. Perhaps the reason he had so much trouble staying awake at the tea party was that he simply wasn’t getting enough caffeine. Let me introduce you to my coffee, sir.

Who would be at your literary dinner party?

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This was my favorite challenge thus far – spine poetry.

It’s Day Two of the 24in48 Readathon, and I’m going to make it! I’ve finished three books:

  • A Day in Provence by Peter Mayle
  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  • Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi

Today’s reading is going to be a combination of

  • The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
  • The audiobook of Hunger by Roxane Gay (because 24 hours is A LOT of sitting)
  • Pieces posted in my mastermind group’s Google drive

I’ve consisted on a diet of spinach and goat cheese lasagna, potatoes dressed with onions and various sauces (inspired by Padma Lakshmi), oatmeal, and all the coffee I have in the house.

Thanks to all that coffee, I reached hour fifteen early this morning before napping.

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Nine hours to go!

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This is what the majority of my weekend is going to look like.

Intro Survey:

Where in the world are you reading from this weekend?
In Denton, Texas – at home with the air conditioner

Have you done the 24in48 readathon before?
Nope – first time!

Where did you hear about the readathon, if it is your first?
A friend posted about it on Facebook.

What book are you most excited about reading this weekend?
Jasper Fforde’s The Big Over Easy

Tell us something about yourself.
I write and read mostly fiction, but I like something from most genres. Winter is my favorite season. And if coffee were a person, I would marry it.

Remind us where to find you online this weekend.
Twitter (@coffeesnob318), Instagram (@_coffeesnob_), and here on the blog.

Interlude #24in48

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Just one of my book stacks for this weekend. My whole table is covered with them. I’m too excited. I may just read 30 minutes in each one. THERE ARE TOO MANY BOOKS TO READ HOW CAN I POSSIBLY CHOOSE?!

We interrupt our regularly (if you use that term loosely) scheduled Friday Five to talk about books. I am participating in 24in48 this weekend (which you can read about here and sign up for here if you want to participate online). And yes – I will be reading for 24 hours. I have been training my whole life for just such an event.

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I imagine a weekend full of coffee and tea and wine and cereal and leftovers from the lasagna I am making tonight. I am going to be reading some old favorites (The Eyes of the Dragon was my first Stephen King novel. I haven’t read it since sixth grade.), some poetry (I highly recommend Milk and Honey), and of course, foodie books that I’ve been neglecting for too long (Padma Lakshmi is my spice hero).

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I hope to get to some of the nonfiction I have been meaning to read, if for no other reason than it’s time to take them back to the library. Non-fiction is rarely my go-to read (foodie books and cookbooks the notable exception), but maybe I can make it a closer friend this weekend.

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There will probably be times when I am reading some of the treasures on my e-reader. I have a tendency to forget about these since they don’t take up physical space on my bookshelf (as evidenced by my only having read 37% of Hidden Figures, even though I started it months ago). Maybe I’ll finish the ones I’ve started this weekend.

I will spend at least two hours reading selections from my Mastermind writers group and hopefully having useful feedback to give there. A few friends have had books come out recently (or will have books coming out in the next few months), and I’m going to spend a few hours reading some of them.

Part of participating online is posting in the spaces I’ve selected to be a part of the weekend, so you’ll see posts here, on Instagram, and on Twitter, answering prompts, completing challenges, and updating you on how it’s going.

Let me know if you’re going to join!

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