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Archive for May, 2010

Hi, my name is Cheri and I’m an addict.

I’m a food-aholic, a choco-aholic, a string-aholic, a neat-aholic, and a book-aholic.  My OCD compels me to rinse all dishes I’m washing three times before I can put them in the drainer, while my agoraphobia gives me all sorts of good reasons I don’t have to go out that front door (I can get nearly anything I want on the Internet.  Why leave?).  Depression, frustration, disillusionment, oh, my!  On paper, I look like somebody that should probably be checked into the nearest funny farm.  In reality, I function in the “normal” world as well as most people, quietly going about my weird little foibles unnoticed, because most everyone else is quietly going about theirs.  Welcome to humanity, everyone.

Yes, we are all addicts in our own ways.  Gotta have that morning coffee.  Must scrape all the purple sprinkles off the donut before we can eat it.  Use the pencils as miniature drum sticks on your desk while thinking.  Sleep on the right side of the bed.  Always put the toilet paper on so it rolls over the top.  All these little things we do, often without even noticing that we’ve done it, is just a part of the human addictive personality.  We are creatures of habits and everyone has something they just do, no matter what.

Most of the time, when people are talking of addiction, they’re referring to drugs, alcohol and smoking.  A lot of press has been given to these monumental addictions over the years, while passing over the everyday things we all do that are just as hard to kick.  Do you sort your socks by color?  Are all the labels in your pantry face forward?  Is your CD collection alphabetized?  Can you ignore it if just one thing is out of place?

Some of you are probably sitting there confident in your non-addictive little selves, but you’re not seeing the truth of your ways.  There is always something, even for all you anarchistic, chaos-driven, disorderly-loving rebels.  Just the mere fact that you refuse to conform is your addiction.

We trade addictions during our lives.  I used to snack almost constantly when I was in front of the TV, and why I’m now weighing the most I’ve ever weighed in my life.  I substituted needle work for eating.  Now I can’t sit for more than a few minutes without some project in my hands, anywhere, let alone in front of the TV.  Smokers trade cigarettes for chewing gum, eaters trade French fries for salad, tri-athletes trade impact fractures for yoga.  Success comes when you have made the transition to the new addiction.

You’ll see that in the “hard” addictions as well.  Those that can succeed in fighting off their demon are the ones that have found something else, something not nearly so destructive, to latch on to.  Unfortunately, the establishment is too tied up in getting people to just give up their addiction, to offer any alternatives.  Just say no.  Sure it’s easier to quit if you’ve never started in the first place, but the truth of the matter is, we’re all addicts from birth.  The only question is to what.

They say that accepting that you have a problem is the first step toward recovery.  But I’m not sure being human is really a problem, and recovery implies that there’s a sickness going on somewhere.  While humanity has its sick, disgusting, embarrassing, hilarious, outrageous, bewildering, unforgettable moments, they are all transient, and the core of what we are remains.  As long as we keep coming back to that, we’ll be fine.

Excuse me, now, while I go sort my sock drawer…

©  2010   Cheri K. Endsley.  All Rights Reserved.

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Sometimes you just can’t get your head to make any sense.

My biggest frustration lately has been trying to fill in the details and back story of my novel, which was taken from a script I did, which was based on a short story I wrote (many, many) years ago.  So there’s not a lot there beyond the bare bones of the story and the skeleton forms of the characters that I’ve worked with in the many years this thing has been rattling around inside that dark place known as my mind.  Short stories and scripts are unique and different writing forms unto themselves, neither of which I’m very good at.  I have always been better at prose writing, the novel length primarily.  At least, that’s what I thought until I started this latest project.

It seems that once I’ve programmed myself to think of something in a particular way, it’s really hard to reprogram me.  Probably true of most humans, I suppose, but I didn’t expect to have such a challenge with this.  In the deep, dark recesses somewhere, I know where my characters come from, why they’re in the situation they are in, how they came to be the way they are, but when it came time to put that onto the page, the words failed me.  I mean, I had words, but they didn’t convey what I wanted.  Or they didn’t make sense in the overall story line.  Or they were just crappy.

In an effort to break through to the heart of the story and get it in print, I started some visualization exercises.  I began by trying them at the desk while the keyboard was ready for the grand input.  Blank.  So then I decided to try them while I was in those few minutes (hours, days, it seems, sometimes) before I fell asleep in bed.  My mind tends to run wild then anyway, so I figured I could harness some of that energy and come out of it with something useful.

It went something like this:

Gotta come up with the back story.  How did my lead character get into this mess?  Where did the injuries come from?  Do they have anything to do with what happens next, or are they just the reason to abandon the road and head home?  What does the butterfly have to do with anything?  Is this just one of those Freudian visions that speaks of a child hood abandoned too soon, or is it just a neat visual?  Maybe it has something to do with the dad? Damn cat, get off my head.  Or could it be something that was done during college?  If there’s military history, it could mean a connection to something that the government wants covered up.  But really, the character is what the government wants to cover up, so how do we make sure that comes out?  Was it a frame job?  Did the explosion really happen because of a terrorist group, or was it just something they did to try and bring our hero down?  Jeez, they can probably see his snoring on the Richter scale at CalPoly.  Then why does the other guy show up?  How does that all tie in to his connection to the super soldiers, and should it come out that’s what it’s all about?  OWowow!  Leg cramp!  Pull the toes back.  Pull the toes back!  But then why kill the father?  Is the CEO really nuts, or is he just suicidal?  Is there really a difference?  Boy, it’d be nice to get Brandon Routh to play that part in the movie.  I wonder if they’d let me on the set, because I think I left the light on in the bathroom but it doesn’t matter ‘cause somebody’ll be up eventually to make that run to the store for the crap I forgot yesterday yesterday was a nice song by the Beatles which reminds me I gotta kill those bastards in the pantry before they get into the back seat of the truck which I should describe better in the introduction scene before they take the lawyer back to his condo on the lake shore where the boats are landing like in Saving Private Ryan man they really got the sound right on that one doesn’t look right it’sthefrakkingzombiesagainwhere’smydamnsword???

Amazingly enough, out of all that did come a good resolution to my conundrum and I’m happily back filling in the blanks of my novel.  Scary how the mind works, isn’t it?

© 2010  Cheri K. Endsley.  All Rights Reserved.

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The topic of immigration has been forefront in the news lately. Specifically, illegal immigration. This has come about because of Arizona’s recent passage of a law (sb1070, which you can find at http://www.azleg.gov) that requires law enforcement to check an individual’s status if there appears to be some reason to do so during otherwise normal and lawful contact. The uproar over this document has been both amusing and disturbing, ranging from screams of racial profiling to abuse of powers to persecution of innocents.

Maybe all those screaming people should stop and actually read the bill first, then maybe we can have a sensible discussion.

The first assumption that seems to be made by most of these screaming people is that anyone against illegal immigration is against ANY immigration. This, of course, is total horse shit. We are a country built of immigrants and to be against all of them would be taking a stand against our own ancestors who came over at various times in our nation’s history (my mom’s family came over from Germany in the mid-1800’s). The point that is being missed is the ILLEGAL part.

According to http://www.thefreedictionary.com:

il·le·gal (-lgl) adj. 1. Prohibited by law. 2. Prohibited by official rules. … n. An illegal immigrant. (1)

So, prohibited by law. Our laws say don’t come here without signing the guest book first. Seems like a reasonable request, but untold thousands cross the borders every year, ignoring our laws. If that’s how they’re going to start their relationship with us, what other laws are they going to ignore? Generation after generation came to our shores, gave us their information, signed on the dotted line, and went on to become valuable pieces of our American pie. I welcome those who want to start a new life, and are willing to let me know they have nothing to hide by coming through the front door with open hands. Bring us your insights, your experiences, your arts and your honesty, and I’ll happily show you around. But sneak in the back door and then lie to me? Well, just don’t be surprised when I’m a little ticked off about it.

Watching the news the other night, where the media was getting sound bites from May Day protestors in down town LA, one of the people on camera declared, in barely understandable English, that “we are not criminals.” So let’s look at that one, too. Also from http://www.thefreedictionary.com:

crim·i·nal (krm-nl) adj. 1. Of, involving, or having the nature of crime. … n. One that has committed or been legally convicted of a crime. … (2)

And:

crime (krm) n. 1. An act committed or omitted in violation of a law forbidding or commanding it and for which punishment is imposed upon conviction. 2. Unlawful activity. (3)

Seems to me that, by definition, illegal immigrants are indeed criminals. And in my world, criminals don’t get squat from me.

Let’s start with the so called “anchor” babies. These are children born on American soil to illegal immigrants, who by virtue of their geographic location at birth, are now considered American citizens. Under our current laws, that baby is now eligible for all sorts of state and federal aid because his parents are supposedly poverty stricken. So now a family who probably hadn’t seen $600 in their entire lives is getting $600 a month, food stamps and Medi-cal for that baby. Having worked for nearly five years in county social services, I saw this sort of thing all the time. And it really burned me up, because they were being rewarded for breaking our laws. Meanwhile, the elderly couple who had busted their butts their whole lives, paid off their house, their car, their RV and their taxes and were now living on a fixed income, suddenly get slammed by a medical emergency and are financially wiped out but don’t qualify for anything because they were responsible adults with too many assets. What’s wrong with this picture?

The answer to that one is simple: no more “anchor” babies. Doesn’t matter if you’re born on American soil, you’re not American unless at least one of your parents is already a citizen or a legal resident. Just that one change will see a big chunk of the illegal immigration problem go away. No more eight-month pregnant girls being dragged over the border by their father and a coyote so the family can get a leg onto the American dream. I’ve heard people scream that we’re just punishing those children for their parent’s mistakes if we refuse to aid them. Sorry, the world is a cruel place, and if we stop enabling the illegals, maybe they’ll finally get the balls up to fix their own country and leave ours alone.

It’s also time we had an official language. Most other countries do, and it’s just stupid that we don’t. The government should have one language that it does for business with its populace and on formal occasions. For the USA it should be English. I can’t go to Mexico and apply for anything without speaking and reading Spanish, so why should they come here and not have to do the same with our language? (BTW, go do some research on Mexico’s immigration policies, and then come back and tell me I’m a hard-ass.) I was appalled once when I saw a report on new naturalized citizens, and one of the people was a woman who had immigrated  from southern Mexico over fifty years ago, lived and worked in American all that time, and gushed about how proud she was to now finally be an American citizen. Through her interpreter. Let me repeat that: through her INTERPRETER. Fifty years and a citizenship test later, and she still wasn’t comfortable speaking in the language of her adopted country.

Just think of the money the government could save if it didn’t have to provide forms in Spanish, Tonga, Cambodian, Chinese, French, whatever. When I worked in social services, I had the dubious pleasure of keeping all the forms stocked. We had 27 different languages we had to keep forms in. 27, besides English. We tried to find an interpreter once for a lady who only spoke Punjabi, and had to settle on her ten-year-old daughter. This kind of stuff only increases the burden on an already over-worked system. And the truly sad part of the whole story is, most of those who are applying for aid are undeserving shits who haven’t worked a day in their lives and yet feel a vivid sense of entitlement, screaming at the case workers because they have to fill out a form once a month to continue their aid. The stories I could tell…

As for that racial profiling shit, get over it. If every third blue marble I get blows up in my hands, I’m going to be very careful about new blue marbles. That’s just human nature. When someone is pulled over for busted tail lights, and in the process of writing the ticket the officer discovers the person doesn’t speak English and is acting more than reasonably nervous, then that officer’s spidey sense has more than enough right to go off.

In a world where terrorists have blown up our embassies, our airplanes, our office buildings, where there is a constant threat against our very existence as a country and a people, we have a right to defend ourselves to the fullest extent of our laws and abilities. So stop being pissed off when we actually try to do that.

You want to come to America? Fine. All you have to do is follow the rules.

_________________________________________________

(1) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.)

(2) ibid

(3) ibid

© 2010 Cheri K. Endsley. All Rights Reserved.

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