Category Archives: Closing Thoughts

Halloween Costumes and Your Children (Even the ones that aren’t yours)

Every year around this time, I hear a lot of coworkers talking about what their children want to dress up as or what they saw people dressed up as last year. Inevitably, there’s always a conversation about how women’s costumes are 90% slutty and how that’s not cool (Because it isn’t), but there’s also the unfailing conversation about gender specific costumes for children.

Last year, a coworker brought up that her son wanted to dress up as Jane from Tarzan. Her husband had left her in charge of costumes, so because that’s what he wanted, she got it for him. Apparently her son wanted to build forts and have forest adventures like Jane.

A male coworker was like “Why would you do that?” and I said, “If my someday son wants to be Jane for Halloween, I’ll buy or make him the costume, and we can have forest adventures and if he wants to find a forest husband, I will help him find one of those too.”

The coworker with the son who dressed up as Jane high-fived me and the other women around didn’t diss the idea, but I could tell the male coworker was a little confused. So let me break it down for you.

Children are shaped by what we tell them is okay or not. If you tell your son he can’t dress up as a female he likes (like the scientist/artist that Jane Porter is) or tell a girl she can’t dress up like a male she admires (such as G.I. Joe or Spiderman), what you’re telling them is “I made a box for you and your personality, and you must fit in it or I won’t love you.” You’re telling them that you agree with a society that limits our creativity and that has smaller boxes for your children than you do and will hammer nails into it every time your child wants to be original or independent until your child is old and the box is a coffin.

If your daughter wants to be a car or your son wants to be a pink loofah – just let them. Compliment their idea. If it’s inappropriate for where you’re going, still tell them how much you love the idea and then gently persuade them to pick something else.

Don’t limit your children. The world is going to try to do enough of that. Home should be the one place they feel safe to be who they want to be. As their parent, you should be the person they feel comfortable being themselves around. So encourage and don’t box them up.

Happy Halloween!

A Holiday Reminder for the Religious

With Christmas just around the corner, I thought now would be a good time to bring up religion. You see Christians running around during winter, claiming that Christmas is being forgotten, that no one knows what it truly means anymore. The issue I see with that idea is that Christmas decorations go up in stores before Halloween, some of the most prevalent decorations have angelic themes, if you drive around for lights you’re going to see manger scenes, and it’s impossible to listen to the radio without hearing songs about Jesus.

Christmas time is a special time. You will never hear more love or more hatred out of the Christian community. It should be entirely about Christ for them, about spreading love and beauty and knowledge, but it turns into a guilt fest more often than not. If there is one thing that gets through to Christian readers in this post, I hope it’s this: That LOVE is what should guide your every move, not just now in this season but always.

Personal story time!

Growing up, I was always different. I was a product of the new generation – governed by television shows from another country, video games from other countries, and books from all over the world.  I was a liberal mind before I knew what it meant.

My mother is the very best type of Christian you can find. She loves God and the bible and dislikes anyone talking bad about her religion. Her home has many decorations invoking the name of God and speaking of love. She majored in psychology and minored in world religions. She never tries to impose her beliefs on others, but is open to discuss her religion, or any other religion, to anyone who’s interested. She has taught me so much about acceptance and equality that I sometimes forget that the world isn’t full of people like her, who have such a simple and beautiful idea of how to treat others.

I grew up kind and loving and not wanting to hurt others. I wanted to spread excitement and joy and, for a time, my love of Jesus. I’ve touched on some reasons I stopped liking church in a recent post, so I won’t retell that story. I’ll just summarize.

Over the course of my life, I was taught to love others, to not judge them for their life choices, to accept people, and to forgive people seventy times seven times (Matthew 18:22 for that last one). But it’s hard to love your own people when you see them treat others harshly, especially during the holidays.

As I told a cousin recently, I am not bitter at Christians just for their treatment of the LGBT+ community. I am bitter for their treatment of others, but I am also bitter for their treatment of me – one of their own. After I was moved into the teen category of placement for youth programs, I never felt comfortable around people at church. I was picked on in middle school at church for my hair, my glasses, my twin sister, and my lack of athletic skill. Even when we moved and joined a new church that was said to be so loving and accepting, I didn’t find any comfort.

It was nearly impossible to have any type of conversation with any of the people I met there. If I wasn’t speaking only of Jesus, if I wasn’t praising my every waking moment of success to him, if I was talking about anything I had an interest in, I was given weird looks, pitying looks, and uncomfortable silence, as though they were debating what to do with me or waiting for me to turn the conversation around and focus only on God again.

I read novels that weren’t sold in Christian bookstores. I watched TV shows that were about fantasy lands and people. Never mind that other kids in the group were watching reality TV, at least theirs was ‘real’. I still didn’t play sports, and I didn’t play an instrument. How was I supposed to fit in, apparently, without these specific skills and interests? I wanted to go to a non-Christian school? Oh no. Poor thing. I watched movies in theaters and I have friends who aren’t Christians and don’t go to church. Scandalous.

Do the majority of Christians ever listen to themselves? You’re trying to build walls around a very limited interest set and then smush everyone inside them. This is not the way to gain new church members. This is not the way to show a love of Christ year round. If the true meaning of Christmas is being lost, the only ones you have to blame for it are yourselves and your behavior.

My friends who aren’t Christians know the Christian meaning of Christmas. I knew an atheist who knew the bible forwards and backwards. He knew the Christian meaning of Christmas. I love Christmas and I love sharing those feelings of giving, acceptance, forgiveness, and love. I love sharing them all year round, and this is the time of year where most people recognize the need to share them.

But it’s hard to stay positive when you find yourself surrounded by groups of religious people all claiming that no one understands and everyone is just faking it and how dare people try to exclude Jesus from their celebrations and…

Stop.

So someone celebrates different from you. So someone doesn’t celebrate at all. This does not make them evil. This does not make you holy. We are all on this Earth, suffering and struggling together. Spread love, not hate. Emulate the God (or gods) you believe in and accept others this holiday season.

If someone passes you on the street and says Merry Christmas, say thank you. If you see a sign that reads Happy Hanukkah, smile at it. If the song on the radio declares a bright Happy Holidays, sing along. Someone is wishing you well, and spitting on those wishes does not make you any better, or any happier, in the end.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

RM

Morals in Movies: Battle of the Year

The movie “Battle of the Year: Dream Team” has some very good lessons in it.

1) Change the way you think, change your life.

Act like champions, be champions. If you wanna be a better person or change your lot it life, it can literally be as simple as changing the way you think. Be positive and the world will look more positive. Be negative and you will only always see the negative. Believe you can do something and you have a much greater chance at succeeding.

2) There is no “I” in “Team”. We must become “We” or this will never work.

Especially in today’s society – we must become “we”. We can’t divide ourselves. We must come together. There is no “us” vs “them” except for what we create. As a country, we must become “we” or we’ll destroy ourselves. As a planet, as a world, we must become “we” or we’ll fall into war forever and never find peace. We must become “we” or we’ll never really succeed.

3) The right kind of pressure builds a team.

You don’t have to get along with everyone all the time. Some types of pressure are good pressures. They pushes you to do better, to be better. You can disagree with others, so long as you channel it to be constructive to your personal growth.

4) I am ___-American.

In one of their dances, there’s a voice over by each member of the group stating what kind of American they are. “I am African-American.” “I am Korean-American.” “I am French-American.” “I am Italian-American.” etc etc. Remember that America is not made up of American-Americans. The only ones who were “original” Americans were the Indians and even they originated somewhere else. We all come from somewhere, even if we were born here in the States, but we can forget all of that and come together as a family, as a team, and accomplish great things. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you are or who you love. We’re all in this together.

There’s more, but these were the big four in my mind.

Ciao tutti,

RM

The Downfall of Our World

A lot of people are throwing blame around in this world, in this country. The other party isn’t cooperating. The president isn’t trying hard enough. The senate and congress are lazy. The super stores are taking everything and giving nothing. The banks are evil. Wall Street is full of heartless rich white guys of the 1%.

So some of the unrest is totally justified. Yes rich, white men are throwing their weight around and claiming to be the voice of the under represented. And yes they get it wrong a lot. Yes the government is flawed and failing in many areas, and yes it has a lot to do with party conflicts that shouldn’t even exist. Yes these issues are real and need attention.

But here’s where we should start our battle. In schools.

Every time an election comes around (and I don’t just mean for presidency), I hear candidates half-mention the need to better our school systems. The problem is that they always decide to cut funding to the arts and bolster the sciences. I’m all for STEM classes, but if we’ve already tried this approach and it hasn’t improved us, why are we still trying it? To quote the brilliant mind of Albert Einstein, insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I don’t think the problem with schools is that we focus too much on arts or even that we focus too much on STEM. I think the problem is that teachers understand that most of their students need creativity to learn even if they aren’t artistically inclined but aren’t allowed to provide any of it because of legislature. I think the problem is schools losing programs that allowed kids to find healthy, productive venues for their issues and problems like art and music and literature and then wondering why more and more of the student population hates going to school to the point of dropping out and why bullying is on the rise to the point that some students are being hazed using their food allergies. I think the problem is so much focus on standardized testing and not on helping students remember the information passed graduation.

I think the problem with American education is that some people still think Titanic is just a movie. I think there’s a problem with the fact that most people think “Madonna with Child” is a reference to a pop singer.  I think the problem is that most people don’t know the capital of the United States of America despite living here. I think the problem is that most people don’t think reading is useful, that it’s a low-class hobby, and that our literacy rate for most adults is at a 3rd grade level.

I think the problem is that most people don’t know the definition of racism or sexism but like to throw the words around to attack others while being the definition of the words themselves.

I think the problem is that “the real world” is teaching kids to think like this and not letting teachers correct the issues and instill real passion for learning in their students.

I think the problem is that the government thinks paying teachers less than most people pay babysitters is fair and just and that college tuition rates keep rising till people can’t afford to go or end up finishing with more debt than they can ever pay off and that the world sneers at them for it either way and that a Bachelor’s degree is worth as much as a high school diploma despite the cost and time and effort.

I think our society could be great again. I think our citizens could fix all the issues themselves if they were educated, with or without higher education. I think our people could save this country of freedom if we tried a different tactic and put more money into education and small businesses and healthcare than we put into building our military. I truly believe that if we inspired people to love learning we could fix our broken nation.

But until the angry masses stop shaming the government for making any step in that direction, and until the government takes charge of such an opportunity, we shall never see that growth. The problem is that the angry masses don’t understand that taking steps in this direction are for their benefit because of the current system in place, so they continue to stay angry masses. The problem is that people are too focused on immediate returns and not focused enough on long-term consequences, and this will be the downfall of more than just our country.

This will be the downfall of our world.

Ciao tutti,

RM

I Wish My Dentist Lied to Me

When I was very young and I got my first cavity ever, I proudly told the pretty dentist assistant that I would make sure to brush extra well so the tiny cavity I had wouldn’t grow any bigger. My mother and the pretty assistant smiled and laughed a little before I was informed that no amount of brushing was going to help. What did that do? It told me that once a cavity began to form, there was nothing in my own power I could do to stop that bad thing from becoming worse.

When I was in high school, a dentist complimented the whiteness of my teeth despite me never having used any type of whitening product. The very next year, one of his assistants measured my gums and not only told me I was on the road to gingivitis but that my gums were basically at a level about 1-2 millimeters away from when they’d start telling me my gums were “bad”. When I asked what I could do to solve the problem, I was informed that regular brushing and flossing would keep them at their current levels, but nothing I could do under my own power would ever fix the damage already done. My gums were doomed to stay at their detrimental levels unless I underwent surgery, which was hinted to be a course of action I would rather not take.

Sometime else in high school, a kind dentist chatted me up and spoke about lies toothpaste and mouth wash and other products tell you. The major one? That the product will help you regain tooth enamel. Apparently this is something that simply can’t be done. Once you teeth begin to wear away, you can only hope to reinforce what you still have, not regain what you’ve lost.

So over the years, my outlook on oral hygiene has been that there’s nothing I can do but hope to slow the inevitable process of my spiral into full dentures at some potentially not so advanced age.

Complete offense meant to my dentists over the years, but I feel like there was a better way to encourage me to keep up my oral hygiene than convince me there was nothing I could do to help myself improve.

This idea of helplessness started off with my very first offense in oral hygiene. My very first cavity. My very first accident at an age where I didn’t even understand what a cavity was. Scare tactics may work on some, but I felt more and more belittled and useless each time I was more informed on my own health.  Maybe it’s true that I can’t stop a cavity from getting worse or heal gum and tooth decay, but out of all the things in this world that I’ve been handed covered in sugar and sweetness and lies, I wish oral hygiene was one of them. Tell me I can take charge and heal myself. Tell me I can change a downward spiral and work my way back up.

You may think the words of a dentist may have no effect on the rest of your life other than your mental health about gum disease, but that style of thinking – the idea that you can’t fix something about yourself – that’s going to seep over into the rest of your thoughts whether you like it or not and whether you take notice or not.

I wish my dentists had lied to me and told me I could brush and floss my way into a perfect smile all on my own. Because once you start to think you can’t improve, what’s to stop you from not trying to even stay level? What’s to stop me from throwing out my toothbrush entirely and relying on gum or the occasional mouth rinse to hide the smell?

This rant isn’t about oral hygiene anyway.

Ciao tutti,

RM

Kids Movies Shouldn’t Be Just for Kids

The idea in popular thinking that children’s movies have to be light and fluffy and safe and not have too many crude jokes in them the only adults will get is really kind of bs.

I mean, I think people are forgetting how tragic some of the best children’s movies are.

I mean just with Disney:

Beauty and the Beast is about a man cursed to be a beast and a woman he basically kidnaps, and it has near continuous mentions of death.

Cinderella opens with the story of a young girl losing her father. She is then abused by her family, no matter how well she takes it.

In The Lion King, Scar literally throws his brother off a cliff. He is trampled to death and young Simba witnesses the tragedy and is then convinced he is a murderer and exiled from his own kingdom. The entire pride lands turns into a nightmare, complete with never sunny skies and near cannibalistic monsters.

The Little Mermaid has Ursula basically telling Ariel to use sex appeal to win a guy, and she kinda does. Ursula also has a host of shriveled people trapped in her home.

Lady and the Tramp has a terrifying, evil rat trying to kill/steal/eat a baby and several dark scenes – including Lady in the pound.

Have you watched The Rescuers lately? Or it’s sequel? Kidnapping. Attempted murder. Thievery. Traumatic hospital experiences. Bad guys being eaten by wild animals. I mean, seriously.

Treasure Planet is about a broken family. The main character has a history of arrests. Over half the cast is evil. That movie is a bucket of angst.

Lilo and Stitch is another broken family. I mean I could dedicate this whole post to the not-happy and sunshine things in Lilo and Stitch.

Same goes for Oliver and Company – a kitten no one wanted is left to drown in a cardboard box until it breaks and he’s left on the streets. He’s then subjected to a number of scary experiences. There’s a child being kidnapped and held for ransom. Those evil dogs are scary as hell. The bad guy is terrifying. Even one of the heroes could be scary to a little kid – he’s a dirty looking hobo selling fake watches.

Outside of Disney you have movies like The Land Before Time, where Littlefoot watches his mother die and must then travel across the world to find the rest of his family. He meets other kids but even then he’s battered over and over with self-doubt, loneliness, and depression.

An American Tale is a cute movie but when you get older you see it’s a anecdote about immigration and children’s work houses and orphanages and living on the streets of 1870’s America.

Balto is about an outcast half-wolf dog that no one wants to associate with. Other dogs and all humans avoid him. Even when he starts to have good experiences, the other dogs ruin it for him. He nearly dies a few times. The plot of the movie is that a sickness is killing children.

A Little Princess sounds like a cute movie, but I always hated it because it scared me and made me cry. A girl is orphaned while at boarding school, then she’s turned into a servant. Every time she starts to enjoy herself, the headmistress ruins it and threatens her. Her best friend is the victim of racism. Her father was in a war and got amnesia and almost doesn’t recognize his own daughter in the end.

The creator of Rise of the Guardians made a statement when asked about how dark his movie was. He said he wanted to prove kids movies could be dark. Good on him, because a kid’s movie without darkness is a movie without true conflict and thus boring to anyone above the third grade. Anyone younger just likes it because it moves.

I could go on and on.

So all the articles I see lately about how children’s movies are too dark and they need to be fun and friendly and whatever… I mean, stop it. Your kids need more than candy.

Kid’s movies shouldn’t just be for kids. They should be movies you can watch again and again and get something new each time because you’re learning about the world and realizing that was in your favorite movie the whole time.

Ciao tutti,

RM

Reading and Reading

Turns out that the reflections I have to do each week for my internship at The Florida Review are actually rather course specific. I mention submissions to the magazine in detail and why I liked or disliked them. There is a small portion where I describe what I’ve learned or noticed about being an editor, but it is never enough to make a whole post about.

My reflections are not publicly decent.

That throws out my idea of using them as my weekly blog posts. Oh well.

In other news, I’m reading more lately. I set a goal for myself this year – 12 books in 12 months – on GoodReads. I’m reading several books at once right now. I just finished The Hunger Games and have started Catching Fire. I’m reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and I’m reading Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks. They’re all such different styles, but I love them all the same.

It’s not against the rules to read multiple books at the same time, even if those books aren’t in the same vein or genre or length. The point of reading is to enjoy yourself, so having a few isn’t a problem. It just means you have several to choose from depending on your mood.

I’ve been setting a reading goal for a few years now and have always met it, even though the numbers have always been low compared to some of my friends – usually 10 or 12. Have you ever set a reading goal, with a website or with yourself? Did you meet it? Surpass it?

Its a good feeling, finishing a book or reaching a reading goal. I recommend it if you’re looking for a simple kind of goal to try for.

Thanks for reading.

Ciao Tutti!

~RM

ps. In a different turn of events, I have become more active in posting to my Facebook pages. If you want to get a more regular thought from me, follow my personal Facebook like page. I also have my movie review blog’s like page, and of course I have the like page for The Rose Chateau. I’m trying to keep up with all of those more regularly.

I’ve discovered I’m terrible at twitter and keeping up with that, but if you can tell me how to link my Facebook with my Twitter so my like page posts will go to my Twitter, that would be fantastic, and I would suddenly be tweeting all the time. Let me know if that’s possible.

Looking to the Past, Stepping into the Future

Well how fast did I epically fail my last New Year Resolution? Keep up a regular posting schedule… ha! Well here’s to the same plan this year.

I’m making a queue on my tumblr so there will, hopefully, always be something going up once or twice a day from me. I have Twitter on my phone, so I’ll see if I can keep up with that now too. And as for blogging, I think my internship this semester will help with that.

This semester I am part of The Florida Review internship, helping to produce a non-profit, national literary journal. At the end of the semester, my name will appear on the masthead of the editions I help create. As part of the class portion of the internship, I have to write a journal each week about what I’ve learned that week from the course and the internship. I plan to use those as at least jumping points for blog posts, because they will apparently be a great inside look at how I grow and what I think of the editing job/business.

Also, this blog has been updated a bit. I used it in a course last semester as proof of my ‘Author site’ and some classmates gave me points on how to improve the site. The ‘About It All’ page now includes my email in case anyone wants to message me privately or ask me a question. The information has been updated. I have a link page to other pages I think you would all enjoy if you’re into the same things as me, and I hope you are. If you have any suggestions for other links to be added, be sure to hit me up in a comment or email!

Here’s to hoping we all have great years ahead of us!

Ciao tutti,

RM

DVR, the Enemy of Advertising?

Modern television viewing has been greatly affected by DVR usage. You can rewind and pause live TV, and you can record all your favorite shows in case you miss them or want to watch them again later. The only time you can fast forward is if you had previously rewound the show or if it is one of the recorded shows.

Many advertising companies fear that increased DVR usage by viewers will negatively impact sales because people can just fast forward over all the commercials. While I can see their point, I’d have to disagree. Personally, I mute the commercials on a normal basis anyway and stare in awe at how 90% of them make no sense without the words. They don’t relate to their product at all without the monologue. With my DVR, if I glance up and see a crazy or interesting commercial and actually care about what it says, I can rewind to find out. The same goes for if I change the channel and catch the end of a good commercial. Sometimes I like using my DVR to rewind and find out what I missed.

I don’t believe DVR usage is what will ruin the advertising industry. If people are going to fast forward through your commercials at record speeds and only come grinding to a halt when their show returns, then they probably weren’t watching your commercials anyway. Like me, they turned off the sound and did other things, like surf the web or go on tumblr or plan a vacation or grade papers, and only unmute the sound when the show comes back on. That or they’re like my brother, who changes channels whenever a commercial comes on. He watches two shows, sort of, flipping between them when commercials take over. When both shows are on commercial breaks at the same time? He continuously flips between the two until one of them stops showing commercials.

Do you think the DVR is an enemy of commercial advertisement? Do you use your DVR just to fast forward through the commercials? Would you be watching the commercials if you didn’t have a DVR?

Ciao Tutti,

RM

Revisionist or Perfectionist

I recently re-enrolled at my university after having already graduated in May with a Bachelors of Arts in English. Since I majored in Literature, I couldn’t reapply for Creative Writing – although my entire plan was to become a better editor through such a program. Why not? Because they are both English degrees. Because I couldn’t major in Creative Writing, I’m minoring in it and majoring in Journalism.

Let me be clear – I have no interest in becoming a journalist full-time. Maybe I’ll write articles on the side about my field or about travel, but I have no intention of becoming a war correspondent or a news reporter on camera.

The class, however, is teaching me to question the world, to ask why and how and to keep my curiosity of life aflame. It’s showing me how to stay connected with my community and pushing me to expand my horizons. I like this class for this reason.

I am also learning something about other writers.

In class, we have in-class writings where we must answer a question, discuss it with our neighbors, and then discuss our ideas in class. Today I realized that the three closest people to me in the classroom all have something in common. They write out their answers, grab a new piece of paper, and re-write it. The young woman in front of me reworded hers a bit. The young man beside me sometimes rewrites the entire thing. The other girl near me seems to be doing it to make it neater.

I just write my answer to the best of my ability and leave it. I sat in class this past Monday while others kept writing and wondered if I was weird for already being done, for not rewriting it like my classmates. My decision at the end? I’m not weird. I just don’t edit quick answer, in-class writing assignments to make them sound ‘better’.

My question now is… do they rewrite their work in class because they think it could be better or because they’re perfectionists or do they even know why they do it? I thought about it, and I can understand reworking a short story you’re about to send off or a journalistic piece you hope to publish, but an in-class, quick answer assignment hasn’t quite fit the bill for me. I wrote my answer, thought it was brilliantly done, and waited for someone near me to finish so I could discuss with them. Unfortunately, no one finished before we skipped on to ‘discuss with the class’, but we all had a brilliant class discussion.

So what do you think? Do you rewrite your in-class prompts/assignments? Do you save editing like that for essays or creative pieces you plan to get graded on or get published? Do you do both? Why? I’m really, honestly curious.

Ciao Tutti,

RM