Why Choices Matter


The longer I live, the more I realize that life really is what you make it.  I don’t want to get too political here because that’s not what my blog is about, but all this talk about McDonald’s employees demanding to make $15/hr just makes me realize how important it is to make good choices in life, my point being that working at McDonald’s is a job that is intended for teenagers, college students, or others who are just trying to supplement their income.  It’s not meant to be a CAREER.  It’s not meant to be a job on which you support a family.  As cruel as it may sound, this kind of job just doesn’t require anywhere near the skill or expertise to justify paying someone $15/hr.  And if you think it does, trust & believe that if the minimum wage is really increased to $15/hr, the fast food moguls will very quickly find a way to replace human beings with machines or robots that do not require salaries or benefits.  That’s just how capitalism works, folks. mcdonalds

But this isn’t a post about minimum wage or workers’ rights or anything like that.  Rather this is a post in which I want to reaffirm my belief that as adults we alone our responsible for the trajectory of our own lives.  Now obviously we cannot control everything that happens to us.  We can all think of dozens, if not hundreds, of examples of bad things happening to good people (& vice versa), & these examples all serve as evidence that the world can, at times, be a most cruel & unjust place.  On the other hand, whether we like it or not, if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s quite clear that for the most part our lives turn out the way they do because of the choices we make.  Let me be clear in saying that this does NOT mean we should not have compassion & empathy for those whose lives have turned out less than desirable.  Far be it from any of us to look down on anyone else because of their station in life. choices

However, I truly believe that if we want to help ourselves or anyone else, we must first realize the power we each have over our own lives.  This is both scary & empowering.  It’s scary because it requires us to admit that many of the problems we face in life are actually the direct result of bad choices we have made.  On the other hand, this realization is very empowering because it awakens us to the power that lies within us to transform our own lives.  It means that we are NOT just slaves to the whims of fate or the circumstances in which we happened to be born.  We are not just pawns in the hands of some insurmountable “destiny” or “providence.”  When it comes to helping others, perhaps the best way to describe this is the old quote that goes like this: “Give a man a fish & you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish & you feed him for a lifetime.”destiny choice

At the risk of offending a lot of people, I’m going to just put this plainly, as I see it.  I think a lot of the world is in turmoil because people are waiting for a savior; they’re waiting for God to fix their problems & the problems of the world.  The old cliché “Good things come to those who wait” is nonsense.  The truth is good things come to those who works their butts off & never take no for an answer.  In reality, WE need to fix our own problems because we actually DO have the power to change our lives.  Furthermore, if we each have the power to change our own lives, then it follows that collectively we have the power to change the world.  I’m smart enough to realize that there will never be a utopia on this planet.  But I’m also optimistic (or maybe stupid/naïve) enough to believe that the world CAN become a better place, if only we claim the power within ourselves to make it so.good things quote

 

When all is said & done, I truly believe none of us can blame anyone else for our position in life.  Certainly our parents, families, friends, & the society in which we live influence us in many ways, some good, some bad.  But as living, breathing, thinking adults we alone are responsible for our own decisions & for living with the consequences of those choices.  Trust me, I fall into the trap of trying to blame other people or life circumstances for my own short-comings more often than I’d like to admit.  That’s just part of being human.  The point is not staying in that trap but rather being honest with ourselves & learning to hold ourselves accountable for the decisions we make.  It’s not an easy process & it’s one that takes a lot of practice & a lot of self-discipline.  But if we want to succeed & enjoy this crazy journey called life as much as possible, it’s a process that is absolutely essential.

In summary, here’s my challenge to you (& to myself obviously):  Be brutally honest with yourself.

1.  What is it about your own life that you dislike?  

2.  As hard as it may be to admit, what choices have you made that have led you to your current position in life?  

3.  What could you do differently to obtain a better outcome?  

4.  Lastly, as we all know “no man is an island,” who can you enlist to help hold you accountable for making better decisions?  As we’ve already discussed, ultimately you alone are responsible for your own choices, but it sure does help to have a friend walking along with you.

Here’s to soul-searching & asking the hard questions.  Cheers!

"Life is like a railway track: a bend of an inch & a distance of many miles."  ~ rom "Jab We Met" (my favorite Hindi film)

Life is like a railway track: a bend of an inch & a distance of many miles.” ~ from “Jab We Met” (my favorite Hindi film)

If you need a little inspiration on your journey to taking full responsibility of your life, check out this empowering song from the amazing new Halestorm album that just debuted last week.  (The entire album ROCKS, by the way!!)  This song was in fact the major inspiration for this post.

You need this album.  You really do.

You need this album. You really do.

I am through with this
`Cause I am more than this
I promise to myself
Alone & no one else
My flame is rising higher

I am the fire
I am burning brighter
Roaring like a storm
And I am the one I’ve been waiting for
Screaming like a siren
Alive & burning brighter
I am the fire

I don’t believe I’ll fall from grace
Won’t let the past decide my fate
Leave forgiveness in my wake
Take the love that I’ve embraced

I promise to myself, me & no one else
I am more than this
I am the fire

I am the fire
I am burning brighter
Roaring like a storm
And I am the one I’ve been waiting for
Screaming like a siren
Alive & burning brighter
I am the fire

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_1__C-K-vM (Link to the video with lyrics included)

Stupid Girls: The Kardashian Phenomenon & How It’s Ruining Modern Women


While eating lunch with a friend at work last night, we had the bad luck to catch about three minutes of the Kardashian show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, or whatever the heck the name of that show is.  In any case, we both agreed that our IQs had been lowered just in those few short minutes.  Thankfully we had the good sense to cut off the TV before any more brain cells were lost. Kim Kardashian

I’ve railed against what I call the Kardashian Phenomenon on this blog before, but today I feel like I must address it again, this time as a central theme.

What, you may ask, is the Kardashian Phenomenon?  It is, in my mind, the phenomenon in the modern world in which certain people have become celebrities for no apparent reason whatsoever, other than being wealthy.  Since Kim Kardashian is easily the best example of this phenomenon, I’ve named it after her, although Paris Hilton certainly gives her a run for her money. Kim K marriage cartoon

For years I’ve been trying to figure out why anyone gives two hoots about what these “women” are doing with their pathetic lives, & I’ve yet to unravel the mystery.  As one of my favorite rock stars, Rick DeJesus (lead singer of Adelita’s Way) so eloquently stated in an interview a few years ago, “You’ve got these amazing rock singers, & the reality TV stars have now become more famous than the biggest rock stars in the world.  It boggles my mind that America is letting that happen to rock music.  It boggles my mind that Kim Kardashian, who has no talent at all, is more famous than Brent Smith, one of the best singers probably ever to live . . . You’ve got someone like Kim Kardashian — these people, they do nothing!  There’s no talent.  What’s their talent?  Getting f***ed?” (for the entire interview, see  http://www.rockedition.com/interviews/artist-interviews/interview-with-rick-dejesus-of-adelitas-way/)  Forgive me if that sounds crude, but it is truly the reality of the matter, & the world needs to face it!

Rick DeJesus, lead singer of Adelita's Way & author of the brilliant quote above

Rick DeJesus, lead singer of Adelita’s Way & author of the brilliant quote above

This entire phenomenon makes me cherish even more a certain P!nk song called “Stupid Girls.”  I actually didn’t know the song when it was released back in 2006, but a friend of mine introduced me to it sometime in the past year or two, & I instantly fell in love because it seems as relevant now as it was when it debuted. pink stupid girls

[As an aside, one could argue that P!nk might not be the ideal role model for young women, but she’s certainly a hell of a lot better than any other female pop star of the past two decades (other than perhaps Taylor Swift who has sadly crossed firmly into the pop arena).  I particularly like P!nk’s songs about female empowerment such as “So What,” “U & Ur Hand,” (although it kills me that she didn’t just name it “You & Your Hand”!!!) & of course “Stupid Girls.”  In a world where most female pop stars make themselves out to be little (if anything) more than sexual objects, P!nk has certainly taken a different approach.  To this day when a “man” makes me feel uncomfortable by staring at me or making indiscreet remarks, the words of “U & Ur Hand” run through my mind & make me feel just a little bit less marginalized.]p!nk

If you don’t know “Stupid Girls”, here’s a sample of some of my favorite lyrics from the song:

What happened to the dreams of a girl president?
She’s dancing in the video next to 50 Cent
They travel in packs of two or three
With their itsy bitsy doggies & their teeny-weeny tees
Where, oh where, have the smart people gone?
Oh where, oh where could they be?

Maybe if I act like that, that guy will call me back
Porno Paparazzi girl, I don’t wanna be a stupid girl
Maybe if I act like that, flipping my blond hair back
Push up my bra like that, I don’t wanna be a stupid girl

I’m so glad that I’ll never fit in
That will never be me
Outcasts & girls with ambition
That’s what I wanna see

Disasters all around
World in despair
Your only concern
“Will it f*** up my hair?”dumb blonde

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t think all women need to be CEOs, doctors, lawyers, or anything like that in order to avoid being “stupid girls” or part of the despicable Kardashian Phenomenon.  Clearly not everyone is meant to have such a career.  It’s really not about a career anyway; it’s about a mentality, a mentality that worships women who are famous for doing absolutely nothing, other than being wealthy.  And it’s not even like these women are wealthy because of something interesting THEY didlike writing a novel, becoming an athlete, or running a company.  No, girls like Kim Kardashian & Paris Hilton are wealthy because they inherited their money from their fathers!  Yes, they may have expanded their wealth based on their ridiculous TV shows, sex tapes, & other “ventures,” but I dare someone to tell me how any of these things has added any real value to the world.  You’re kidding yourself if you think they have. commander-in-chief

I consider myself a feminist, but I’m not so worried about having a female president, although that would be nice (but I’m not about to vote for someone just because she’s a woman), as I am about what the Kardashian Phenomenon is teaching girls & young women about our society.  Little girls who grow up seeing their moms, aunts, friends, & other role models watching the Kardashian show or other such trash are surely being sent some rather screwed up messages about the definition of success, especially as someone of the female persuasion. feminism-is-not-a-dirty-word

When I was growing up, all the way until I went to college, I was very sheltered which definitely has its advantages & disadvantages, & I do plan to raise my kids a bit differently in some ways (& not so differently in others).  But I will say I am so glad that I did not grow up in the era of the Kardashian Phenomenon, although Britney Spears was certainly bad enough.  Indeed when I was a little girl I dreamed of being a writer, a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, & traveling the world as a National Geographic photographer.  Sure I wanted to be pretty, & trust me, especially as a teen, I spent hours agonizing over my appearance sometimes, & I honestly don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.  After all, we think nothing of guys spending hours in the gym honing their physique in an attempt to attract girls’ attention.  (For the record, it is often very obvious which guys are kicking ass at the gym just for the sake of the ladies & which ones are there because they truly care about looking good & being healthy for their own sake as well.  And the latter are far more attractive!) little girls with dreams

But the point is my greatest goals were never about becoming rich or famous, marrying a millionaire (or even marriage at all), or becoming some kind of sex symbol for America.  It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with being rich or famous or even with being a sex symbol in some way.  After all, if you do become rich & famous for whatever reason, as long as you’re not Godzilla, you’re probably going to become some kind of sex symbol whether you like it or not.  It’s just the way the world works & that’s not necessarily bad; it’s just human nature.

Lzzy Hale has certainly become a sex symbol in the rock community & one can easily see why.  But that isn't why she's famous.  She's famous b/c she is an insanely talented singer & guitarist . . . who just happens to be pretty hot too. :)

Lzzy Hale has certainly become a sex symbol in the rock community & one can easily see why. But that isn’t why she’s famous. She’s famous b/c she is an insanely talented singer & guitarist . . . who just happens to be pretty hot too. :)

Again, the point is that girls (& boys) need to grow up with greater ambitions than becoming the next Kim Kardashian or owning countless designer purses that cost more than some people’s monthly wages.

So, ladies, I beg of you, if you want a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T, stop watching the Kardashians.  Stop spending a thousand dollars on a purse (unless you REALLY have that kind of money to blow & nothing better to do with it).  Wear as much or as little make-up as you like, but either way do it because it makes YOU happy, not because of who it will attract.  And if you own Paris Hilton’s book or any of the countless magazines featuring her or Kim or any other such idiots, kindly throw them in the fire or the paper shredder & watch your IQ soar.'Hello, how can I offend you?'

If by chance I’ve offended you, I’m sorry but I’m not sorry.

**P.S. Here’s the link to P!nk’s “Stupid Girls”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BR4yQFZK9YM

The Voice of an Angel


Approximately a year ago, a friend from my hometown introduced me to a band called The Shondes.  Knowing he had good taste in music, I checked the band out on YouTube & immediately fell in love with their music.  Just last week this friend messaged me that The Shondes were coming to Local 506 in Chapel Hill so we made plans to attend.  Unfortunately, he ended up being unable to attend the concert, but thankfully one of my Raleigh friends was able to accompany me, which of course was awesome.  As so often happens when I attend a concert, one of the opening acts captured my heart as much as the band I came to see.  In this case, said opening act was a girl named Brooke Telarico whose voice was so beautiful there are just no words to accurately describe it.  music quote

In any case, this poem was written about her voice & the emotions her music stirred in me last night.   dew drop

As soon as you stood before the microphone

And picked up your golden guitar & started to sing

My mind was immediately transfixed & transformed

Hypnotized, as it were, as I listened in amazement

To the mesmerizing surreal quality of your voice

A voice as smooth as velvet

A voice that dripped like honey

Or like dew drops as they glide off of a rose petal

A voice like satin or silk as it slides off your shoulder

A voice reminiscent of sex & pleasure & all things carnal

Yet pure & incandescent like the filaments of the light bulbs

Which, hanging above me, have suddenly become like stars in the nighttime sky

A voice that intoxicates me more than the alcohol

That is coursing through my veins like a river

A voice that enraptures me like a waterfall

And surrounds me like the morning mist as it rises above the fields

As your music becomes my heartbeat & the very breath that I breathe

In this moment, in this very moment, I know that I am alive

The Cascades, a waterfall in Giles County in SW Virginia.  05-31-2010.

The Cascades, a waterfall in Giles County in SW Virginia. 05-31-2010.

Indian Style Butternut Squash Recipe


This is one of my favorite recipes & I am proud to say I created it myself.  Considering there is nothing new under the sun, I’m sure it’s not truly original, & I did take inspiration from various sources, but in any case I’ve perfected my version of it just from my own experimentation.  I make it almost every week now since both my husband & I really like it.  Quite often my coworkers have told me it smells delicious when I bring it to work for my lunch, so today I decided I would share it on here.

I’m starting to enjoy cooking a lot more, but it still isn’t exactly something I do just for fun.  However, this recipe meets all three of my fundamental requirements for something I take time to cook: it’s quick/easy, healthy, & reheats well so it can be used for multiple servings over the course of a week.

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash
  • Several tablespoons of olive (or other cooking) oil
  • 1 TBS Vietnamese sweet lemon curry (will be pictured later)
    • Could substitute regular yellow curry if needed
  • 1 TBS cumin
  • 1/2 a 13.5 oz can of light coconut milk

Start out by cutting the ends off of the butternut squash

P1100477Next, hold the squash vertically & cut it down the center so that you end up with 2 halves like this:P1100478This is the point at which you can see how closely butternut squash are related to pumpkins.  The seeds are almost identical.  The next step is to scrape out the seeds & the stringy flesh around the seeds.  This works best with a grapefruit spoon, but if you don’t have one, a regular spoon will do the trick; it’s just a bit more work.P1100479I usually buy a large butternut squash, so what I’ll do at this point is place one of the halves into a Ziplock bag & save it in the fridge until next week.  I’ve found that if I try to cook the whole thing at once we can’t eat it all in one week; plus it’s harder to cook the whole thing at one time.  If you have a larger family, you might want to use the whole squash, but I’d still recommend actually cooking each half separately.

Now it’s time to peel the squash.  I highly recommend using an actual vegetable peeler because these things are a real menace to peel without one.  You may notice some green striations in the flesh of the squash; these are totally normal.P1100480Next, slice up the squash into sections like this:P1100481Now it’s time to get the oil heated up.  I never measure, but I just use enough olive oil to thoroughly coat my iron skillet, & I turn the burner onto medium.  Also I’ve found dishes taste better if I allow the spices to simmer in the oil as it warms up (I don’t measure, just a quick sprinkle of each spice).

The spices pictured below are the ones I use for this recipe (& for many other dishes).  The Vietnamese curry comes from Savory Spice Shop in Lafayette Village off of Falls of Neuse Rd in North Raleigh (see http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/ where you can purchase spices online if you aren’t in the Triangle area of NC).  You can certainly use a regular yellow curry, but I’ve found this sweet lemon curry pairs extremely well with the cumin.  The cumin I use comes from Sam’s Club, but you should be able to find it at just about any grocery store.  P1100482While the oil is heating up, use this time to further cut the squash into bite-size pieces like this:P1100484By time you finish this, the oil should be hot.  Now place the bite-size pieces into the hot oil & cover with more of the curry & cumin.  I never measure, but I’m guessing about 1 TBS of each is sufficient.

Once I’ve placed the squash into the pan, I turn the temperature back to medium low.P1100485Cover with a lid & stir every 3-5 minutes to ensure even cooking.

After about 10 minutes or when the squash are starting to soften up a bit, it’s time to add 1/2 a 13.5 oz can of light coconut milk.  Make sure you shake the can well before opening it.

Pour about half the coconut milk over the squash & allow to cook for about another 10 minutes.  You can pour the other half of the can into a tupperware & save it in the fridge for later use (it will keep for over a week at least).P1100486You will know the squash is done when it is visibly softened & can easily be cut/mashed with a fork.  This usually takes about 15-20 minutes total, ideally half of the time before adding the coconut milk & half after.P1100491The key to keeping the squash moist is NOT draining the oil/milk after cooking.  Make sure to save all of it because it helps keep the dish both moist & flavorful as you reheat it for days to come.  Yes, the olive oil & coconut milk add a few extra calories, but they also contain very healthy fats that are important in a nutritious diet.

Here is a portion of the finished product, ready to be served.  Delicious!P1100494An essential component of this recipe is having a corgi running around the kitchen while you’re cooking.P1100488Just kidding.  ;)

Again, I love this recipe because it’s quick/easy, healthy, & reheats easily.  And of course most importantly it’s DELICIOUS!  Let me know if you decide to try it & how it turns out for you.

Why Childhood & Innocence are Overrated


If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say that being an adult & living in the so-called “real world” sucks, I’d be a rich woman.  And if I had a dollar for every time I read a Facebook status saying the exact same thing I’d be even richer.  I’m not an idiot, nor am I incapable of empathy, so I can understand where some of these sentiments come from, yet I for one love being an adult.  I’ve written about this topic before (see: http://athicketofmusingsblog.com/2013/11/15/10-reasons-why-growing-up-doesnt-actually-suck/), but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately & thus feel compelled to revisit the subject.

I've laughed at these memes too, but honestly I love being an adult & am puzzled as to why so many others don't.

I’ve laughed at these memes too, but honestly I love being an adult & am puzzled as to why so many others don’t.

Every time I hear people say they miss the innocent, carefree state of childhood, I always want to ask them what the hell they are talking about.  Now I know I was in some ways a rather odd child, but whenever I hear people saying this stuff about how childhood was such an easy, worry-free time of life, I have to resist the urge to run away screaming.  I don’t want to make my parents look bad because they were & are wonderful people who did a great job raising me.  But for reasons that were largely out of their control, I just don’t remember my childhood being this endless cycle of happiness & rainbows & unicorns that so many other people seem to recall.  I don’t want to sound like I’m having a pity party because trust me I am very aware of how blessed I am just to have been born in America & into a loving, stable family.  I have plenty of good memories from childhood & adolescence, but that doesn’t mean my childhood was something I look back on with much nostalgia. childhood is overrated

Perhaps I’m just being overly negative, but the greatest thing I remember from my childhood, certainly from about age eight upwards, was the overwhelming desire to grow up so that I could be respected & treated like the intelligent person I knew I was & so that I could escape a world to which I wasn’t too sure I really belonged.  I don’t think I totally understood the latter part of this at the time, but looking back I can see the desire was there all along.  Somewhere deep inside of me I knew that as an adult I’d have a level of confidence in myself that as a child & teen I could only dream of having.  I yearned for the day when I’d be able to look in the mirror only once or twice before leaving the house, when I wouldn’t scrutinize every tiny aspect of my appearance out of fear that everyone else was certainly noticing all of my numerous (perceived) flaws.  And I for one am happy to say that adulthood has not disappointed me in these regards.

As a kid, I yearned to grow up, partly because I knew as an adult I'd be able to laugh at myself.  I'm so glad this turned out to be true.

As a kid, I yearned to grow up, partly because I knew as an adult I’d be able to laugh at myself. I’m so glad this turned out to be true.

You see, I was one of those weird kids who actually loved school, not for the social aspect like most kids do, but for the pure love of learning.  Indeed, the social aspect of school was what gave me nightmares.  Every summer I would go through such great anxiety as I worried about whether or not I’d get lucky enough to be in a class with anyone from my small group of friends (who of course were the other nerds like me).  When I was that lucky, things were decent.  When I wasn’t, I begged my mom to homeschool me.  I was never strictly bullied but I was certainly made fun of enough to always remember that horrible feeling of knowing everyone’s laughing at you or being the last person picked in gym class too many times to count.  Looking back on it, I’m incredibly glad that my mother didn’t listen to my pleadings because learning to be myself in a world where that wasn’t so easy was one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life, & even though it was miserable at the time, I’m so glad I learned it at a young ageRWE quote

As far as the whole worry-free concept goes, I for one don’t ever remember such a stage in life, certainly not past about age seven or eight.  Granted my worries back then were, in the grand scheme of things, fairly inconsequential.  Things like passing tests, making sure I remembered my gym suit or lunch money, & finding someone to eat lunch with are clearly not life or death matters.  HOWEVER, THEY FELT LIKE IT AT THE TIME.  AND THAT IS ALL THAT MATTERS.  And that is what everyone seems to forget.  Wearing the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia, of which I apparently have never owned a pair, I suppose it’s easy to forget the way that every little drama you encountered as a child, & certainly as a teenager, seemed like the beginning or end of your whole life.  But perception is your reality & at the end of the day that’s all that matters.perception reality

Hindsight is, as they say, 20/20, & the older I get, the more I’m starting to realize that anxiety, especially social anxiety, has always been a part of my life.  I think part of my anxiety stems from intrinsic factors (essentially my brain’s natural chemistry) & part of it stems from extrinsic factors (things such as not fitting in well at school).  Thankfully my anxiety has never been totally crippling or so overwhelming that I’ve become a hermit or abandoned all semblance of a social life.  But it’s something that I’m starting to realize has had a greater impact on my life than I might like to admit.

However, what I’m also starting to realize is that perhaps the greatest gift life could have given me was NOT having a “perfect” childhood.  Why, you ask?  Because it has allowed me to never for one second regret growing up & becoming the adult I always wanted to be.  While so many others despise the responsibilities of adulthood, I cherish them because I know they are what allow me to enjoy the freedoms of adulthood, freedoms that I would not for one second trade for the so-called blissful innocence of childhood.  Yes, there are days when I look at the world & seriously struggle not to become a hateful cynic.  But there are many more days when I look at the world in awe & fascination & gratitude that I get to experience this beautiful journey of life.  And to me being able to face all the hideousness of the world, all the cruelties & injustices that occur day after day after day on this planet, yet still being able to find the beauty & joy that life has to offer . . . Well, that, coupled with enjoying the freedoms of adulthood, is to me more magical than any kind of blissful ignorance or innocence that childhood could ever offer.freedom albert camus

Cheers, & happy Friday, everyone!

Why Marilyn Manson Isn’t Actually the Devil After All


If you haven’t figured it out already (or if you’re new here), this blog is often a place where I explore things I was taught growing up & how I’ve moved away from some of those things as I’ve become an adult.  This isn’t easy for me because, whether by nature or by nurture, or more likely some combination of the two, I am a bit of a people-pleaser.  I like to help others & to make people happy.  It’s never come naturally to me to rock the boat, & thus I try to avoid confrontation as much as possible.  However, one of the best things about being a nurse is that it has forced me to become a lot more assertive & thus be less afraid of confrontation.  Furthermore, it has helped me understand that life is far too short to be anything but happy, & that Shakespeare’s words “This above all, to thine own self be true” were indeed very wise.  The older I get, the less I care about pleasing everyone else in my life because I’ve realized that I can never please everyone anyway.  And at the end of the day, no one owns my life except me, so it’s best to just be honest about who I am & what I believe & let the cards fall where they may.

That was a long preamble, but I’ve said all that to explain why today’s blog post is kind of a big deal for me. marilyn manson

One of the things I learned growing up was that Marilyn Manson was more or less the personification of evil, Satan incarnate if you will.  As someone who seems to have made a career out of making people uncomfortable & rocking the boat in every possible way, quite often it seems just for the hell of it, Manson is someone that for most of my life I just couldn’t understand.  I still vividly remember the first time I heard his version of Sweet Dreams & was mildly horrified to find that I loved the song.  I was driving to Blacksburg to visit my then-boyfriend/now-husband when the song came on the radio.  It was dark outside & I have to admit the song sent chills down my spine.  And yet I loved it.  At the time I was vaguely familiar with a few of his other pieces like The Beautiful People & The Dope Show, but none of them had ever intrigued me enough to really investigate him further or see past his “devilish” image (both literal & metaphorical).  It’s only in the past few weeks that I’ve really started to read up on Manson & try to understand him as an artist & a person, which was triggered when I read an interview with him about his new album in Revolver magazine & was surprised at the maturity & wisdom in his words.

pale emperor

Manson’s latest album, which just debuted in January, is very bluesy & quite different than much of his previous work. Definitely worth a listen even if you’re not normally a fan of his music.

To be clear, I’m still not a fan of some of Manson’s antics from his heyday back in the 90s (stuff like urinating on fans & masturbating on stage).  But if you read some of his more recent interviews or listen to his latest album, The Pale Emperor, it quickly becomes apparent that Manson has matured a great deal.  I’ve also just recently seen his interview in Bowling for Columbine & read some of the articles he wrote in response to that tragedy, & I’ve found myself nodding along in agreement with every word he said.

So today I’d like to share some of my favorite Manson quotes that I’ve gathered over the past few weeks that prove to me that he is not in fact the devil incarnate & is indeed actually a very astute, articulate artist who deserves a lot more respect & a lot less fear than he gets.  (Also he’s pretty hilarious, but in a devilish way, of course.)mm pale emperor

“A lot of people forget or never realize that I started my band as a criticism of these very issues of despair and hypocrisy. The name Marilyn Manson has never celebrated the sad fact that America puts killers on the cover of Time magazine, giving them as much notoriety as our favorite movie stars. From Jesse James to Charles Manson, the media, since their inception, have turned criminals into folk heroes. They just created two new ones when they plastered those dip-shits Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris’ pictures on the front of every newspaper. Don’t be surprised if every kid who gets pushed around has two new idols.”

Times have not become more violent. They have just become more televised. Does anyone think the Civil War was the least bit civil? If television had existed, you could be sure they would have been there to cover it, or maybe even participate in it…”

mm destroy faith

“Responsible journalists have reported with less publicity that Harris and Klebold were not Marilyn Manson fans – that they even disliked my music. Even if they were fans, that gives them no excuse, nor does it mean that music is to blame. Did we look for James Huberty’s inspiration when he gunned down people at McDonald’s? What did Timothy McVeigh like to watch? . . . What inspires Bill Clinton to blow people up in Kosovo? . . . Isn’t killing just killing, regardless if it’s in Vietnam or Jonesboro, Arkansas? Why do we justify one, just because it seems to be for the right reasons? Should there ever be a right reason? If a kid is old enough to drive a car or buy a gun, isn’t he old enough to be held personally responsible for what he does with his car or gun? Or if he’s a teenager, should someone else be blamed because he isn’t as enlightened as an eighteen-year-old?”

“I’m a controversial artist, one who dares to have an opinion and bothers to create music and videos that challenge people’s ideas in a world that is watered-down and hollow. In my work I examine the America we live in, and I’ve always tried to show people that the devil we blame our atrocities on is really just each one of us. So don’t expect the end of the world to come one day out of the blue – it’s been happening every day for a long time.”

[All of the above quotes come from Manson’s response to the Columbine tragedy published in Rolling Stones.  I strongly encourage you to read the entire piece in all of its brilliance: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/columbine-whose-fault-is-it-19990624]marilyn-manson-cat

“…but in the end you always die alone.  It’s not really a sad story, but it is the reality story.  We all die alone.  It’s what you do when you’re alive that counts.  And if you make a deal with the devil, don’t try to outrun him, because in the end, he’s always going to be there.”

“The church wouldn’t have tried to suppress music if there wasn’t so much power in it . . . It’s a really all about alchemy in the end.  It’s about turning lead into gold, & that’s what making music is.  And they fear that- that’s really the thing.  It’s not, ‘Oh, that evil rock and roll music- it makes the kids go out and have sex!’  It’s, ‘They’re stealing our market!  Those are our customers!  Give them back!’”

[The above two quotes are from the interview with Manson in the current (February/March 2015) issue of Revolver magazine which I referenced earlier in this post.  You can find the magazine at Barnes & Noble.]manson pale emperor

If you were to talk directly to the kids at Columbine and the people in that community, what would you say to them right now?

I wouldn’t say a single word to them.  I would listen to what they have to say. And that’s what no one did.”

[From the interview with Manson in Bowling for Columbine]

manson columbine

“Well, I always like to go by the motto ‘freedom of speech does not come with a dental plan’ . . . Words are just words. But to some people, they’re not just words. When they’re very fundamentalist, and whether it be Christian or Islamic or whatever it is, some people can not take jokes. And those are the people that you pretty much avoid making jokes about. That’s what I’ve learned.”

[You can read the full interview from which the above quote comes here: http://www.avclub.com/article/marilyn-manson-charlie-hebdo-onion-and-his-gold-sw-213924.  It’s full of Manson’s signature devilish humor.]

“The beast they lived in fear of was really themselves: It was man, not some mythological demon, that was going to destroy man in the end. And this beast had been created out of their fear.”

“Everybody has a light and a dark side, and neither can exist without the other.”

[From his autobiography The Long, Hard Road Out of Hell]Marilyn Manson book

“Art is a f—ing question mark, you fill in the blanks. That’s the listener’s job — that’s what music is about.”

[From this interview: http://www.spin.com/articles/qa-marilyn-manson/]

The following are quotes I really like that are attributed to Manson, but FYI I can’t find direct sources for them.

A lot of people don’t want to make their own decisions. They’re too scared. It’s much easier to be told what to do.”

“I never said to be like me; I say to be like you and make a difference.”

Manson & his dad

Manson & his dad

Music is the strongest form of magic.”

“All the drugs in the world won’t save us from ourselves.”

“The devil doesn’t exist . . . you are responsible for your own good and evil.”

manson music magic

In the end it seems that maybe Manson isn’t so evil after all . . . or at least no more so than any of the rest of us.  And maybe that’s exactly what he’s being trying to show us all these years.

Natural Born Sinner


As some of you may know from reading earlier posts on here or from knowing me in real life, I grew up in a very conservative Baptist church in a small town in Virginia.  Naturally as part of that, I grew up thinking that being gay, bisexual, transgender, or anything at all outside of “normal” straight-forward heterosexuality was not only “weird” but entirely wrong, indeed sinful.

Props to the brilliant person who made this

Props to the brilliant person who made this

Once I was a teenager & started to question a lot of the things I was taught growing up, one of the greatest issues I faced was the issue of homosexuality.  I just couldn’t find it within myself to label something that seems such a fundamental part of a person’s identity as wrong.  It just didn’t make sense to me, even then, that this supposedly loving omniscient god would create someone a certain way & then say “Nope, that’s wrong, & you’re going to Hell if you don’t ask for forgiveness & change it.”  That just made absolutely zero sense to me, & I for one have always struggled to believe anything that seems completely contradictory to basic logic & reason.  I just can’t do it, even if part of me wishes I could just so life could be “easier.” how-is-my-marriage-affecting-you

Once I got to college & started meeting people who actually were gay & bisexual, I knew I could no longer believe that such things were wrong.  I could not look in the eyes of a friend, someone I knew to be a decent, loving human being, & say to them “Your whole identity is wrong.”  Furthermore, the more I studied gender identity issues, the more I knew I could never again stand against anyone who questioned their own identity or sexuality because the more I tried to understand these people, the more I realized they were just like me.  I don’t mean that I am bisexual, lesbian, or transgender at all.  I just mean that at heart we are all the same: we’re all human beings who just want to love & to be loved & to understand ourselves & be able to express ourselves as best we can.  And what could possibly be wrong with that?  As long as no one is getting hurt, why should any of us care who anyone else wants to sleep with?  In the grand scheme of things, it’s really quite petty to obsess over such things.will smith gay rights

Sometime in 2013 I discovered the metal band In This Moment whose lead singer is Maria Brink.  Immediately I was intrigued by the dark yet inspiring music created by this incredibly talented woman & her band.  After thoroughly enjoying Blood, I was quick to purchase their 2014 album Black Widow last year.  Very soon I realized this was without a doubt one of the best albums of the year & by far the best album ITM has created to date.  The whole thing is just musically & lyrically brilliant.  Perhaps because of how much material there is to digest on this disc, it was just yesterday that I realized how incredibly powerful is the eleventh song “Natural Born Sinner.”  I’ve enjoyed the song ever since I bought the album a few months ago & yet I was more focused on some of the other pieces so that I never realized exactly what the theme of this song is.  While at the gym yesterday, the song came on my iPod & for some reason I really listened to the lyrics more than I ever had before.  I quickly understood that this song is the perfect anthem for LGBTQ rights.  I can’t say it better than Maria Brink herself, so I’m just going to share the lyrics for you to read below.  Notice the opening segment is a direct quote from John 8:7, the King James Version no less. black widow ITM
“So when they continued asking him
He lifted up himself, and said unto them,
‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.'”

Listen closely, to what I’m about to say
I think I’ve heard just about enough of your hypocritical ways
Don’t try and stop me now
Don’t you make a sound
You’ve built yourself up oh so high just to tear me down

I’m so tired of you telling me
How to live and what I should not be
And I’m so tired of you telling me
What to do and what I don’t believe
And after all that you’re telling me
Why is there hate and only you can see
And I’m so sick of you telling me
That I will burn, I will not be free

This is my song
My red crusade
What will I say?
What will I do?
Maybe it’s fear that leads your rage
Maybe you’re me and I am you

So go ahead and point your finger
Tell me who to love, is it him or her?
When will you see this is who I am?

S-I-N-N-E-R
Natural Born Sinner

I’m not gonna change
So stay out of my way
I don’t need you to understand
That I’m already saved
Maybe you should stop, question all your pain
Can you look me in my eyes and say we’re not the same?

Did you really think by pushing me
I would become what you want me to be?
And did you really think by hating me
I’d open up, I’d just hand you the key?
I know you’re scared and don’t understand
This is my life, this is who I am
What I do know is come Judgement Day
Before the Lord can you say the same?

This is my song
My red crusade
What will I say?
What will I do?
Maybe it’s fear that leads your rage
Maybe you’re me and I am you

So go ahead and point your finger
Tell me who to love, is it him or her?
When will you see this is who I am?
S-I-N-N-E-R
S-I-N-N-E-R

So go ahead and point your fingers
I love who I want, whether him or her
When will you see that I may be a…
S-I-N-N-E-R
Natural Born Sinner
SO GO AHEAD AND POINT!
S-I-N-N-E-R
S-I-N-N-E-R
S-I-N-N-E-R
S-I-N-N-E-R
S-I-N-N-E-R
S-I-N-N-E-R
S-I-N-N-E-R
Natural Born Sinner
Here’s a link to the song itself.  Please give it a listen because it is so incredibly powerful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JN8S2Ue8O4s

I have no idea if Maria Brink is lesbian or bisexual herself, but I do know she has a son so I’m inclined to say possibly bisexual, but I really don’t know.  And the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter.  I’m just so grateful to her for writing such a powerful song that embraces exactly how I & so many others feel about this issue.  The fact is none of us is perfect.  We are all flawed in numerous ways.  But far be it from me to judge anyone for something so fundamental as their sexuality.gay rights marriage

Indeed, in a world full of poverty, orphans, violence, & environmental destruction, I find it really quite incredible that so many people are still bothered by homosexuality & other “less than straight” forms of sexuality.  I know I may catch some flack from some of my own family for so openly championing gay rights, but I’ve reached the point in my life where I realize that I’ll never please everyone anyway & life is far too short to remain silent about things that matter in an effort to fit in or be accepted by anyone, even those you love.  So this is me, a strictly heterosexual female, unapologetically telling the world that I support homosexuality, bisexuality, & transgenderism.  You can like it or lump it as far as I’m concerned.