Wake up?  I am Awake What About You?

I was told to wake up by a former student.  I hold no ill will toward him and am happy he gave me a topic and a reason to vent.

I realize I don’t know everything, but I am awake.  Sometimes I wish wasn’t, just caught in a bad nightmare or watching bad horror movies.

I was young, but I wasn’t asleep during the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, used to stoke up war fever against Vietnam and communism.  I watched Cronkite describe the Tet Offensive and the destruction of any belief in victory. I cringed at the Mai Lai Massacre and its attempted cover-up.  I read the Pentagon Papers which uncovered the secrets of our clandestine involvement in Vietnam and its neighbors from Truman to Nixon.

I watched hollow-eyed veterans come home to a disrespect they didn’t deserve.  I saw the aftermath of the student massacres at Kent State and Orangeburg…something we the people didn’t deserve.  I viewed the Vietnam protests on my black and white TV.

The evening news showed protesters threatened with thirty caliber machine guns in Chicago and journalist Mike Wallace thrown to the floor for asking a question before being escorted out of the Democratic Convention.  Carnage raged outside the convention center as Daily’s minions used batons and tear gas to disperse protestors.

I experienced the Civil Rights era with government attempts to discredit Black leaders and the Black Panthers…something we still attempt to do today unless we need a good quote to make a point or someone to focus hatred upon.  1968 WAS a time when we really shouldn’t have believed our FBI.  No J. Edger Hoover probably wasn’t a crossdresser, but he was a paranoid racist at his best.

In real time, I watched people of color marginalized, beaten, bombed, and their buses set on fire.  Their votes suppressed by men who looked like me flying a flag from old time’s there not forgotten.  With reports from several states, how has that changed?

I lived through the assassinations of two Kennedys, a King and attempted assassinations on two Presidents.  I don’t believe Oswald or Jones did their evil alone but have no definitive proof, so I don’t spout off about it or embrace conspiracy theories.  I don’t believe in conspiracy theories about bombs being sent through the mail.

I witnessed, in black and white, the murder of a sovereign Asian countries’ president and a military coup but didn’t know we were complicit until well after the fact.  Complicit in attempted assassinations on Castro and the Bay of Pigs?  Yeah, those two and others.  Still, until the Seventies, I believed we wore the white hat in our gunfights at high noon and were better than assassinations, coups, and invasions.

Watergate and Contragate?  I witnessed the hearings that followed, a President riding off into the sunset and a Marine Colonel falling on his own sword so another President didn’t have to ride off to California.

Wake up?  Bullshit!

Gerald Ford told the nation their great nightmare was over.  Bill Clinton comforted the people of Oklahoma City and the nation after a mad bomber killed over a hundred and sixty.  George W. Bush left an elementary school reading to reassure a nation when planes crashed into skyscrapers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.  Yes, as we continue to point out, they were imperfect men, but they knew how to act in times of national distress.  They knew how to calm and unify.

Why do I need to wake up?  There is plenty of evil to go around, and I’ve lived through much of it, much of it created and covered up by our own government.  I don’t need to embrace loudmouths who make a living spouting conspiracy and pointing fingers at the other side.  Maybe we should wake up and realize they are nothing more than small-minded hatemongers attempting to make a buck.

When you share their hatred and conspiracies, you become a part of the problem.  Maybe you should wake up and realize when you share hate you become the problem that is undermining the nation and your friends and neighbors.  We need compromise, not a conspiracy.

More rants and musings at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The image was liberated fromhttps://www.lifehack.org/648887/how-to-detect-a-wolf-in-sheeps-clothing

My Writing Sucks….

 

I’m absolutely at war with myself.  The problem is I’ve been reading when I should be writing…or cutting grass or weeding the garden.  Actually, I’ve done them all.  Anything to avoid writing.  I did cut grass and weeded the garden and I’ve read Roy Blount Jr., Julia Reed, Rick Bragg, and James Lee Burke…it’s Burke’s fault…and Jeri Lynn Wolfe Cooper.

I didn’t know I had the desire to write until my former student, Jeri Lynn, put a bug in my ear…or up my butt.  A burr under my saddle.  A bee in my bonnet…any others?  After twenty-five years we reconnected through another bane of my existence, social media.  She was Lynn Wolfe thirty years ago…she’s Lynn Cooper now but I liked the way Jeri Lynn rolled off the tongue of my Southern brain back then.  Still, do.

Wouldn’t you know it?  She’s a writer.  Anyway, my bad writing career is her fault.  “You always told great stories…you should write them down.”  I did…and try to force you to read them.

I studied other people’s writings, Lynn’s included.  I say  “Lynn’s included” because Lynn writes hot, romantic tales, something my wife says I know nothing about.  “Honey, I’m just taking notes for later.”  She didn’t buy it…I don’t guess I bought it either. ..but I still buy Lynn’s books.

Sometimes I have a hard time reconciling the sweet young woman who used to sit in my sociology class with the writer who pens scorching, passionate fiction.  Really scorching, real quality.  Her writing would be good even if it wasn’t sizzling.  I can reconcile it after all.

It’s the way Lynn’s words flow and roll off the page, the way she creates vividly erotic scenes without being graphic,  it’s her deeply painted descriptions of characters…my characters look like stick figures.

My excuse is that my last English class was over forty-five years ago.  I’m having to learn on the run…jog…walk.  The only creative writing course I took was exactly fifty years ago.  I remember writing about the sex life of a door knob…it was the “free love” Sixties but a daunting task for an eighteen-year-old virgin.  It’s all I remember about the course.

My writing experience involved forty-five years of creating lesson and practice plans with the occasional grocery list thrown in for good measure.  So, I’m struggling, and the Thesaurus is not my friend.  I’m in the “my writing sucks” frame of mind as I attempt to hammer out a thousand words…words someone might want to read.  Hmmm, “If it doesn’t fit use a bigger hammer.”  I don’t think that will work.

Since we seemed to have skipped spring this year, I picked up James Lee Burke’s latest to avoid the heat of the midday sun.  I had finished my weeding, and my potatoes and tomatoes are doing quite well.  I’m not going to say anything about my squash, I’m sure the squash bugs are listening and waiting to pounce.

Maybe I can get an idea, maybe I can learn something…maybe I can just enjoy Burke’s writing.  I learned I can study a dictionary from now until death takes me and I’ll never ever have anything near James Lee Burke’s vocabulary.  Should have picked up a “Dick and Jane” book instead.  ”See Spot run….”

James Lee Burke writes about pain and he describes it in a way you feel the pain like an abscessed tooth.  He writes about people and doesn’t just describe them, you become them.  Their pain and suffering is your pain and suffering.  He writes about the good and evil in man…sometimes contained in the same flawed person.  He paints with a vivid brush.  Oh, how I wish.

Okay back to the next great American novel…or I can wash my car.  My car really needs washing…

If you are interested in hot, romantic short stories and novellas you might wish to drop by Lynn’s author’s page at  https://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Cooper/e/B00LPX4HGO

If you are interested in nonfiction or historical fiction you might try Don Miller’s page at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B018IT38GM

If you are interested in Don Miller writing romantic adventure as Lena Christenson, her page is at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07B6BDD19  My beloved still wonders what I might know about romance.  Well, I read books.

Image from https://allthatjazzblogdotcom.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/of-struggling-scribes-and-pain/

 

A Teacher’s Anger

 

Rant and Ramble Alert.

I read that the teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School went back to school Friday.  I can’t fathom their emotion.  I’ve tried to empathize, I want to feel what they felt.  I’ve never feared for my life in a school or at an athletic event.  I probably should have been fearful but wasn’t.  I’ve tried to reach inside of myself and find a situation where I was as scared as they must have been…and are.  I’ve waded into fights, made small talk with angry parents and been called into the principal’s office.  In my memory, I can’t find one instance of terror.  Is it bad for me to feel a certain elation for never having been that afraid?

For those of you who don’t know, I spent forty-three years teaching and coaching in the public-school system of South Carolina.  I’m in my third year of retirement although I took long-term substitute assignments the first two years…I guess this is my first full year of retirement.  The most fearful I’ve been in a school was a two-hour tornado warning my first year teaching.  I spent two hours in an underground, mildewed book depository at Gallman Junior High School with ninety or so seventh graders as a tornado wreaked havoc between Newberry and Greenwood.  I didn’t fear for my life.  Yes, I did fear for my sanity…but not for my or my student’s lives.

I can’t imagine what those teachers felt…walking into the school again.  I wonder about those teachers who taught on the second and third floors.  Surely, they will be moved to other areas.

The children will return soon…some of them.  I have seen several expressing their doubts.  If my child came to me and told me, “I can’t go back,” what would I do?  I couldn’t force her to go back and live with myself.

I see people have jumped on the “arm our teachers” bandwagon.  I don’t know.  More guns?  So many questions.  Teachers haven’t had the resources and the respect to do their jobs for a while now.  Now we are going to add to their already, heavy burdens?

I question the safety of a classroom with a gun in it.  I question if a marginally trained teacher with a handgun can stand up to an assassin with a military-style weapon bent on murder.  I wonder what that teacher will do with their students while pegging away at a moving target that is pegging back at them.  I worry about the children who might be caught in the crossfire.

Three teachers died in this attack attempting to save young people.  I wonder I would have been up to it.  I’m glad I never had to find out.

The police and our military personnel make the choice to take their lives into their own hands and carry a weapon as a way of life.  While I commend the police and our military personnel, teachers make the choice to teach.  We are called to nurture, foster, and mold…not shoot.  We are supposed to train, raise, educate and uplift…not take the life of another.  Now we must decide, are we willing to fight fire with fire, six guns blazing.  I just don’t know.

Here in South Carolina, we already have a teacher’s shortage…an estimated six thousand this coming year.  One of the reasons is the state can’t afford to pay the oldsters willing to come back and teach after retirement.  Older folk forced out and young people who don’t seem to see teaching as a very uplifting profession these days.  It might be the GoFundMe pages I see from teachers trying to raise money for their classes.  Exotic stuff like pencils, notebooks, and calculators.  Now it has been suggested to pay bonuses for gun-toting teachers.  I see the teaching shortage increasing along with the class sizes we are instructed to “teach and protect.”  What sane person wants to train to take a bullet while being disparaged, disrespected and undervalued?  I just don’t know.

I am angry, I’m sure you can tell.  I’m angry at the society which has created this culture and I don’t know how we’ve gotten on this path.  I am angry at the gun culture I have been a part of.  I’m angry at law enforcement who could have nipped this shooter before he became a shooter.  I’m angry at the NRA and the gun industry that has enough money to make a difference but instead chose to buy the Congress I am angry with.  I am angry at adults who undervalue the opinions of young people and post hurtful memes or attempt to discredit survivors who were there.  I am angry because people in positions to make law are unwilling to have a conversation about smart and consistent gun control.  I am angry because people in positions to make law are unwilling to have a conversation about the problem being more than just smart and consistent gun control.  Finally, I’m angry that white males are the mentally ill ones and no one seems to want to do anything about it…or even recognize it is a problem.  I’m angry many people.  I don’t believe any of them are the teachers and the students.

I’m going out to walk now.  Maybe I can walk off my anger or at least quiet my mind.  Maybe an answer will come to me.  I will pray for an answer but so far there is only silence and my own anger.

Don Miller’s writer’s page can be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM