Unemployed, Month One


I have known for a month (yesterday) that I would not have a job. I have been unemployed twenty-one days. I’ve moved my job applications list from a paper copy to an excel spreadsheet. Since August 25, I have applied for more than 200 jobs. More than 200. It is not the season for teachers to be looking for jobs, so I have had to be creative. I have applied for many, many traditional adjunct and full-time teaching positions, but I’ve widened my search to include other work from home jobs.

I’m tutoring, editing books, doing some adult-ed stuff (hopefully, still working on that one). I’ve re-watched Doctor Who, Warehouse 13, and Poldark, season 1. I have rearranged my home-office space, it’s sort of evolving. I’ve cleaned my dresser drawers, closet, desk drawer (well, the desk I use most often), the linen closet…

I have swapped out my wallet, twice. The book I’m reading sits, unopened, beside me on my desk—where I am doing very little writing. I’ve organized printers and ink, books, scarves, jewelry, electronics, purses (if you know me at all, you are aware of the magnitude of this endeavor), and even my freezer. I have taught the dog to speak on command.

What I haven’t done is write, walk, plank, row, garden, museumed, or read. Hmm, word thinks museumed is not a word, silly Bill Gates. It is important to note what I haven’t done. It is important to note that at some level I am denying myself things I enjoy.

Getting a job. That’s all that matters. All. That. Matters.

Is it?

Really? Is that the sum total of who I am?

Apparently, simple, often free, pleasures are attached to rewards for a job well done. And I don’t have a job, per se.

I mean, I am in a better position than many of the folks I know, many of the folks I worked with. I was working, part time, one day after ITT closed. Most of my former co-workers are still searching, becoming desperate. I didn’t apply for Unemployment, and I am hoping not to have to. I have covered September’s bills and most of October’s. Granted, I have eliminated and reduced many of my first-world-living bills. I don’t need to have cable available in case I would like to watch something. $200 a month to watch episodes of Doctor Who (which doesn’t start again until…gulp…April). No need to have Netflix deliver DVDs that take me 6 months to watch; I stream regularly. That’s all we do as a family. Satellite radio—I have a 160g iPod! All of that music is backed up on iTunes, so I can stream to one of the two iPhones, or iPad that travel with me everywhere I go. Everywhere. It’s all backed up on Amazon, so I can take my Samsung tablet and stream from that whilst driving. I also have a 6-cd changer in the Jeep and it will play MP3s… So, frivolous, first-world extravagance. I eliminated waste.  So that’s good. And I continue to search for way to slash my budget. Shopping at Aldi—if you don’t shop there, you should. I have hacked about $100 per week off my grocery bill.

Reward. Write. Writing is difficult when your world is consumed with the pennies you no longer earn. So, that’s what I’m writing about. And I’m open to ideas… Anything?


Oh, and you will note that the name of the site has changed – I splurged and paid for the URL, because, well, it is my dream to have enough time to actually do some serious writing. Now, I just need to figure out the landing page, mailchimp thing and I’ll be all set…




It’s Only Words…

The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. John F. Kennedy.

Often people use words without clear definition. This is the cause for great consternation in our world. Words mean things and if we simply disregard meaning, we limit our ability to communicate. A nation with a limited ability to communicate will descend into chaos. Thus, definitions:

Truth: In accordance with fact or reality.

Belief: Point of view, opinion, interpretation.

Faith: A strong belief in the doctrine or religion based on spiritual conviction rather that proof.

When one looks at the definitions it becomes clear that they are not interchangeable. Fact and opinion are two distinctly different things. I can have an opinion about a fact, but it does not change the fact. When someone says, for example, “I don’t believe in evolution.” Evolution doesn’t care, it continues to be a scientifically proven fact. Did you know that the world headquarters for the Flat Earth Society is in Knoxville Tennessee? The society believes that the earth is flat, and that it is a Globularist conspiracy, lie, that it is round. What? Yes, really. Their belief is not factual. And yet, it is a worldwide organization.

Worldwide, a group of people exist who believe something that the empirical evidence, the facts, say is not so. World. Wide.

True story.

Please do not confuse Truth with Belief. Different words, different meanings. Just because you believe it does not make it true. Someone (and I don’t know who) famously said, I will not debate my facts, or knowledge, with your opinions.

Believe what you will—but always fact check. Snopes is a good place to start.

Faith, a religious belief, or conviction, has little place in our political discourse. So says Jefferson, Madison, Washington, and scores of other instrumental figures in American politics and history.

Liberal: Favoring individual liberty, free trade, and moderate political and social reform. Regarding many traditional beliefs as dispensable, invalidated by modern thought, or liable to change.

Conservative: Adverse to change or innovation and holding traditional values. Favoring free enterprise, private ownership, and socially conservative ideas.

I have been called a “bleeding-heart liberal” most of my life; I regard traditional beliefs (please see above) as dispensable, invalidated by modern thought, or liable to change. It’s called the progress. Recently, I was called a conservative. What. The. Fuck. Seriously? What in that definition describes me? Oh, right, nothing. I was called this by someone who believes that to be liberal is to lack patriotism (see below). Said individual is clinging to the ideology that Conservatives own patriotism; that patriotism is a uniquely conservative viewpoint. Again, this belief is not based in fact. You cannot own patriotism. It’s not an ‘enterprise.’ The world is changing. It is no longer defined by your value system. Tradition is an ever evolving thing. Once, it was traditional for humans to be sacrificed, then animals. Now we see these traditions as barbaric. It was traditional for women to stay at home, to be subservient to the men in their lives. Again, as a society, we have evolved. Please get on the train.

Patriot: A person who vigorously supports his or her country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.

Nationalist: A person with strong patriotic feelings, especially one who believes in the superiority of his or her country over others.

The difference in these two words is ever so subtle. And yet, so very, very important. I am a patriot. A liberal patriot, in the same vein as Jefferson—change is not bad. I don’t have to like it, but if it is for the betterment of my country, I will accept it because democracy is about compromise.

The conservative nationalists, or Tea Party movement, want a United States the way it used to be. They don’t want change. But what does that say? A rich, white, male patriarchy—ick! The way it used to be… When we had separate restaurants, water fountains—schools! When people of different colors (for we are all the same race, the Human Race); a time when people with sexual desires or identities that fell outside the conservative norm were imprisoned or beaten; when women were not allowed to obtain credit cards without the signature of their husbands; when birth control required a husband’s permission; when violence against anyone who was not a white male was tolerated, acceptable. A true American patriot would fight against these things, for they define everything that is UnAmerican. So, again, please get the on the train, it leads to a brighter future for everyone.

Leader: The person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.

Representative: (of a legal assembly or deliberative body) consisting of people chosen to act and speak on behalf of a wider group.

I often hear people, from both sides of the aisle call our elected officials leaders, and that’s wrong. The job of our elected officials is to represent us, to vote in accordance with the way their particular constituents would vote. Pretty simple. China and North Korea have leaders, many countries in the Middle East have leaders. We live in the good  ol’ US of A, we have representatives. If you cannot grasp this simple concept, it is no wonder our nation is in such political chaos.

Amendment: A minor change or addition to improve a text or piece of legislation.

An Amendment, by definition, is a change. So when you tell people that the Second Amendment cannot be changed, what you are telling them is that you have no concept of how our Constitution works. It’s just that simple. No clue.

Militia: A military force that is raised from the population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.

To supplement a regular army in case of emergency. Supplement, to add to something else to enhance it. Again, if you are using a different definition, you are not using the words correctly. The Second Amendment contains only 27 words, and should not be as misunderstood as it is. In fact, the founding fathers meant for the entire constitution to be a fluid document. It was their general belief that any law that lasted over a decade, probably should be revisited. So, it is time to revisit the second amendment. Now, before more people die.

Media: The main means of mass communication (television, radio, newspapers).

In the United States, we are experiencing a major misunderstanding about media. It is, by definition, different from the press. So, very different. Media includes comedy, satire, talk shows, Howard Fucking Stern. It’s entertainment, not meant to be taken as the gospel.

And social media warps our perception of reality even more. It is likely that your Facebook and Twitter feeds reflect your politics. This skews how you see the world if it is your only means of information gathering.

The media is not held to the same standard as journalists. The media, social or otherwise, can be flooded with opinions not based in fact… Statements with no empirical evidence. That’s not how information works. So read a news source, and again, verify your facts. Please read all of the definitions below.

Press: Newspapers or journalists viewed collectively.

News: newly received or noteworthy information about recent events.

Entertainment: The action of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment.

So, to recap, I am not conservative; I am, however, a staunch patriot. Patriotism is not owned by any particular party in this country. As a patriot, I believe that is it my obligation to seek the truth, to research, find empirical evidence to support whatever position I take. To find the facts to be part of a well-informed citizenry. This is my obligation as a citizen. I believe that the press is obligated to bring information that is also based in evidence (I don’t always have this one). Did you know that the press, journalism, is the only civilian occupation mentioned in the constitution. I hold them to that standard.

In seeking the facts, I must decide if any given fact is relevant to the conversation at hand. Is it relevant that Donald Trump has had five children with three women? Nope. However if someone tries to impugn the integrity of the institution of marriage—if someone wants to hold the opinion that gay marriage will destroy the institution and family values with it…. Then I become obligated to bring my documentable facts into play. Does it not devalue the institution of marriage, and family values to have been divorced twice, and have 5 children with three women? I would posit my facts on the matter outweigh your opinions about gay marriage. See how it works?

Your beliefs about anyone or anything, are rendered irrelevant if you cannot support them with facts. So, before you come at me with your beliefs, get some facts. Know what the words you are saying actually mean.

Rant over. Please get on the knowledge train at your earliest convenience.

On Blogging

I write something every day. What that is varies depending upon the day. Sometimes it’s poetry, or short stories; sometimes political commentary; sometimes letters of recommendation; sometimes reviews, or observations about American life and culture; sometimes just overheard conversations.

This blog routinely has the most readers, often passing 3-4000 reads per post. And I often don’t understand why. It is clear to me that people with whom I have absolutely nothing in common intellectually, educationally, politically, socially, musically, spiritually, emotionally, or even socio-economically read my blog regularly. And people with whom I am close read rarely. It’s odd to me.

Very odd.

So, why do you read here? What makes a blog successful? Why do you read Mel’s Madness and not Things That Bring Me Joy, or Cultural Salad? Could I include other content? What would draw readers in? How do I entice readers to view the other sites? Would posting at a different time of day, day of the week draw more readers? I have considered staggering posts to test these theories. Perhaps sharing posts more than once per day on social media (a tweet has a life expectancy of 24 minutes). Are people missing my postings because they are outside of the popular time frame? What do you do?

Why do readers read and not comment? Well, part of that is likely because I moderate comments, because I’ll not post hate. But 80-90 percent of the comments that are posted here are negative. Why do people read blogs knowing it will make them angry? Why not just find different blogs? Ones that publish other things? Why seek confrontation? And why do those who nod and cry, “hear, hear” while reading not comment? Why do they not “like” or share the blog?

The best compliment you can give a writer is to share his or her work. I often repost links to other people’s blogs on social media, at very least, I read and then like them, so my social media friends are exposed to other writers. So, please share this and other blogs you read.








Don’t Read the Comments!

The blog the other day had many hits, some very encouraging comments sent to me, likes on Facebook and Twitter. But all of the actual comments to the post were venomous, misogynistic, and full of errors (grammatical and factual). I chose, after much deliberation, to not publish them. Sadly, the people who like posts rarely make public comments. My comments section is moderated because the internet makes people with baseless commentary brave, and I’ll not have it.

But they keep spinning in my head. So, first of all, if you are an ignorant sexist this is likely not a good blog for you to read. Let’s just start with that. But, onward…

  1. A man cannot make statements about his daughter’s sex appeal without, at very least, raising eyebrows. Joking or not. Someone with less money would have been investigated by Social Services. The statement, made publically, is the epitome of sexism and sexual harassment. And if you don’t think it is, reassess your values. Now.
  2. Again symbolizing the epitome of sexist behavior, one thing all of the negative posts had in common was blaming Hillary for Bill’s infidelities. That’s not how it works. I don’t even understand how it’s an issue. Their marriage was on the rocks; they worked it through. To imply that a woman cannot be a feminist if she remains involved with a man whose fidelity is called into question is to suggest, in a nation in which the divorce rate exceeds fifty percent, is to suggest that feminism does not exist. Just like millions of other couples in this country, they worked it through. She was damned if she did and damned if she didn’t. How dare you reduce her public service to her husband’s affairs! How dare you – Each of you, Trump supporters all – how dare you insinuate anything about Hillary’s ability to serve based on the sexual actions of a man in her life; whilst Mr. Trump cheated on his first wife with his second, then on his second with his third. That’s how sexism, misogyny—and even harassment work: It’s ok for the man, he is showing sexual prowess, the women are at fault… How dare you! It is not a political talking point. Again, perhaps this isn’t the blog you should be reading. And to those of you who spouted God… Let he who is without sin cast the first stone… But for the sake of clarity, let’s lay out the facts of Mr. Clinton’s affairs:
    1. Clinton has admitted to two affairs, Gennifer Flowers, and Monika Lewinsky.
    2. Several women have, indeed, brought suit against President Clinton—all of them had recanted, or they were rebuked by the court system as insubstantial.
    3. Bill and Hillary have worked it through, and what happens behind their closed door is none of my business. Nor is it any of yours.
  3. Innuendo does not an argument make. Words like “suspicious,” “crooked,” “dirty dealing,” “shady,” carry no weight. They imply no factual evidence. GET. THE. FACTS. Has she been convicted of a crime? In all of her years of public service? No.
  4. Lastly, and central to each of these responses was that because Hillary defended a rapist she cannot be a feminist. I would, first of all, like to point out, you have no clue how our legal system works. Did Hillary represent a rapist? Yes, she did. She was his court appointed lawyer. And her obligation to the court, to her client, and to the ethic upon which our legal system is built was to give him the best defense possible. She, by all accounts, begged to be removed from the case. Begged. My heart breaks for the little girl who was raped – and for the young attorney who was forced to defend her attacker. Again, we can discuss why a woman was chosen and the misogynistic nature of our culture, but dead horse and all that. One could infer from this story that Hillary (yes that’s right with 2 ls—of the 11 hate-filled responses, not one had her name spelled right) is a woman who believes in the U.S. judicial system, and is willing to set aside her personal belief to support it: “If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you” – it’s a thing in our system. She did the duty required of her. If lawyers simply refused this part of their obligation, our legal systems would be in shambles. It is because of this very principle that I am not a lawyer–I chose rhetoric over law, because it is a standard to which I was afraid I could not hold myself–and it is a requirement of the job. So just stop!

And yes, I researched the quotes made about, and by, Mr. Trump—and limited them to those which were clearly substantiated. You may choose an alternative narrative to mine – but you may not spew it here. I’ll not be called a c*unt, a bitch, or anything else on my blog. I’ll not publish uninformed opinions by anyone. Is that fair? Maybe not, but if you want to assert rhetoric based on prevarication rather than fact—and then support it with vitriol, you’ll not do it here. I’ll not descend into a pissing contest with small-handed individuals.

It has been said before, to me, don’t read the comments!

The rebirth of the Patriarchy

At first, I was going to simply ignore this; but it kept eating away. The Trump campaign—and Trump himself—have long maintained the ideology of the patriarchy. Women shouldn’t work; women must fit a finite definition of beauty; they are gold diggers; pets to be paraded around for his inspection, gratification, and sense of entitlement. Women who don’t comply are abused. Debased. Humiliated (as are many who do comply). The list of women he has treated in an abusive manner goes on seemingly ad infinitum.

But it’s more than that. It’s the subtly of the patriarchy. Mexicans are rapist—we must protect our women, the weaker sex. A message moves through that. It supports the idea that women are helpless. Women are accessories. Ick.

And I thought to ignore it all – he is playing to a very specific audience. An audience, who, like him, is insecure (maybe not about the meaning of small hands but…). An audience afraid of being usurped by immigrants, by non-Christians, by people of color, by people with disabilities, by babies crying—by anyone not them. Even veterans and families of dead soldiers have not escaped his scorn. He is pandering to a group of individuals in our nation who are used to being at the top of the food chain, even if financially, educationally, morally, intellectually they’re not, by virtue of being white and male.

But it is difficult for me to ignore sexism. And I reached my limit when Eric Trump said, “Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman, she wouldn’t allow herself to be [subjected] to it, and by the way, you should take it up with Human Resources, and I think she would as a strong person, at the same time, I don’t think she would allow herself to be subjected to that.” What. The. Fuck. Being strong and powerful elicits harassment—from exactly the crowd your father is inciting. Such harassment can be blatant:

“I bet you make a great wife” D. Trump 2005.

“He asked the men to rate the women — he went down the line and asked the guys, ‘Who’s the most beautiful on the women’s team?’ ” D. Trump 2010.

Or how about this:



@timjcam@megynkelly @FrankLuntz @realDonaldTrump Fox viewers give low marks to bimbo @MegynKelly will consider other programs!” D. Trump, August 2015.

“Heidi Klum. Sadly, she’s no longer a 10.” D. Trump, again in August 2015.

Or even the infamous remark about how he’d date Ivanka if she were not his daughter! That’s sexual harassment. Blatant. Overt. Insulting, not just to Ivanka, but to all women.

On a more subtle level, blaming Bill’s infidelities on Hillary, only insisting that Fiorina stop interrupting during the debates, putting the onus of rape in the military on the women, men and women simply shouldn’t be housed together—what else can we expect from this? Um—how about that men be responsible for their actions? How about we deny the patriarchy this rebirth, abort!

Oh right, not in the patriarchy. Certainly not in Donald Trump’s world. Who are we that we have come to a place in which it is a reality that he is a viable presidential candidate? Who are we?

I now live in a world in which it is likely I will be casting a ballot similar to George & George W. A ballot that will mirror Mitt Romney… If you are an average white man, try to be as enlightened as (god forgive me, I am committing this to print) George Bush and Mitt Romney. And ladies, we are the majority in this country—we’ve come a long way, don’t let sexual harassment turn you away from the polls in November. We are more than just pretty faces, Mr. Trump—we are the most educated, most upwardly mobile part of our society. And we vote.

And we vote. I’m with her.





The Pledge of Allegiance

FrancisBellamyDid you know the Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy to be used as a promotional tool to help put American flags in schools. It’s rumored that Bellamy was a socialist and wanted his pledge to be universal—to be used by any person, in any country. The original is the bare bones of the version we use today:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Important difference between my and the. And adding the country name came a little later. And the directions originally asked that those reciting it extended their right hand, slightly upward toward the flag…. That was changed to hand over the heart during WWII, for obvious reasons.

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

We live with this pledge today; it is woven into the character of who we are. People from both sides of the political spectrum say it with pride. It is the ultimate patriot speak (capitalism, political propaganda, ok…). We say it like penance, three Hail Marys, an Our Father, and the Act of Contrition.


What do the words mean?

I pledge allegiance

Pledge: promise, surety, bond, to give one’s word.

Allegiance: loyalty, fidelity, obedience

To the flag of the United States of America

To this flag.

us flag


Not this one.

battle flag

Or this one.

bonnie blue

Wait, what? How do you obey a flag? Wouldn’t it make more sense to say, I pledge allegiance to the United States of America? It’s that old sales thing hanging on there…

And to the Republic for which it stands

Republic: From Latin res ‘concern’ + publicus ‘of the people, public’. A state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.

So, reaching back to the U. S. Constitution and We the people, or perhaps the Gettysburg Address of the people, by the people… well sort of, that whole elected representatives is important. A republic, as you should have learned in a government or civics class, is not a democracy—it is a state in which the members of the public elect representatives to vote for them. That’s how we roll. And with the average voter turnout historically at 40%… Not so much for the people, by the people. Our government only works if we work it—maybe we could incorporate that into the pledge?

One nation

Not North, South—that conversation officially ended in 1865, when were stopped referring to ourselves as these United States – plural to the United States – singular. Important article there. Not East, West (sorry hip hop, you don’t trump nation).

Under God

That wasn’t added until Eisenhower had it added in 1954 in reaction to the “godless communists” – Cold War rhetoric. Propaganda, a step up from the original advertising, but still, we can hear its embodiment. But which God? Are we talking God the way Jefferson saw god? As in it doesn’t matter what you call god, it is all the divinity… The god of your understanding. And what about Atheists and Agnostics? Are they, by virtue of their intellectual belief, excluded from Patriotism? I don’t think that’s what Bellamy or Eisenhower intended. I really don’t.


Indivisible: unable to be divided. Say it out loud every time you think to look at your fellow Americans Black, Muslim, Gay, Trans, Hispanic, Women as less than American. Say it…it is in the fucking pledge, indivisible—unable to be divided. Get it?

With liberty.

Liberty: the state of being free within a society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s behavior or political views. Different from taking liberty – your liberty stops where mine begins, if this confuses you, please see the definition of indivisible, thank you.

And justice.

Justice: the quality of being fair and reasonable and the administration of the law or authority in maintaining this. Straightforward and simple – the indivisible population deserves, and gets justice—got it? Good. Moving on…

For all.

All: uses to refer to the whole quantity or extent of a particular group. Please see indivisible.

If you cannot say The Pledge with meaning, then don’t say it at all. Just don’t. If your version of The United States doesn’t measure up to this definition of the Pledge, if it is words by rote—you are not a patriot.

If any of this surprised you, buy a dictionary and please, read more widely. Although, if much of this came as a surprise to you, you are probably not part of the audience I usually target.

All definitions from the OED. And if you don’t know what that is, Google is your friend.

Feeling the burn of feeling the bern.

To my younger friends and readers,

I have been engaged in the American electoral process for forty years; I understand your frustration. Really I do. I was a single mom in the Reagan years. I get it. A candidate has not been put forward since Jimmy Carter with whom I have agreed 100%. Not one. Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Barack Obama… Yup, I can find fault with each one. And I voted for them. I love Bernie Sanders, all but his stand on gun control. I voted for him in the primary knowing his stand. He was my top choice. I checked that box, gun control or lack there of and all.

It’s not the world according to Mel…much as I would like it to be. I have never voted for “the lesser evil” I always vote for the candidate with whom I have the most in common. Not everything, but more than the other guy. And I like to make my vote count. I liked Ross Perot. But I knew he couldn’t win, so I looked to next candidate… and cast my vote there. And I would willingly vote for Bernie in the general election. However, it does not look like he will be on the ticket. So I have to reevaluate – who is next on the list?

I have worked for presidential candidates, senators, congressmen, board of supervisors, school board members, knowing that I was not 100% in agreement with them. But agreement enough.

Agreement enough. Not the lesser evil, but the greater good. Supreme Court justices, women’s rights, LGBTQ, people of color—jobs! The greater good.

I’m sorry that you’re angry. I’m sorry your candidate didn’t make the final cut. That happens to the best of us in the grown up world. Al Gore, for god sake—you want a reason to be pissed at the system? Al goddamn Gore! Florida! The Supreme Court! But for the sake of our nation we must move forward. Am I happy with what the Democratic Party has done?


But untied we stand. And we must stand for the sake of our children and grandchildren. We must stand for our LGBTQ friends, shoulder to shoulder. We must stand with our friends of color, arm in arm, fists raised. We must stand with women–fighting for the rights our mothers fought for. We must stand united.

Let me explain some of the things I have learned along the way. We do not live in a democracy. We live in a democratic republic: we vote for people who cast votes for us. We are not going to change that before November… So listen to Bernie, make your vote count. And don’t be angry with the people who have been fighting the good fight before you came along. You want change? Work for it after the election… Work with leaders and representatives you believe will initiate that change.

Whining never fixed anything. Vote for the greater good, and WORK for positive change.


ok, done ranting.