Yes, I’m Angry. But I’m Choosing Love Anyway

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Courtesy of El Payo via Flickr

Let me start with this: I didn’t vote for Donald Trump. In fact, the man has the rare ability to crawl under my skin like lice and turn my blood to lava.

Despite these feelings, I have chosen to resist and fight back with the strongest action of all … love.

On the day of President Trump’s inauguration, I posted a single quote to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in response to the eruption in our country:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

This is perhaps my favorite quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., and no other words more adequately described how I felt on Jan. 20, 2017. Since then, I’ve watched hate grip this nation from all ends of the political spectrum, and while I’m not going to deny my anger, I’ve grasped for these words with greater fervor now.

A close friend of mine from childhood who is Christian said she has chosen to make love her battle cry. As a Jew who is more secular than religious, I decided to join her. My friend said love is not always an easy choice, and she’s right—which is why choosing to love, rather than giving into hate, is so effective.

President Trump goes against every core value I’ve been raised to believe.

  • My father paid my way through college working as a music teacher and I grew up on the stage, yet President Trump wants to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • I have a profound respect for nature, yet President Trump wants to gut the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • I believe health care is a right, not a privilege, yet President Trump is pushing Congress to disband the Affordable Care Act.
  • I’m a former journalist—launching my career with the First Amendment in my pen—yet President Trump calls citizens like me the “enemy of the American people.”

His lack of empathy for those who are different than him, or believe differently than him, or oppose him politically, appalls me. Yet rather than label other Americans who have labeled me, I stand here on this page, and I am declaring to you, President Trump: I CHOOSE LOVE.

I will not lose friendships over this election and I will strive to speak from a place of reason, rather than anger. I will funnel my dissent into saving animals, helping my family and giving to those in my life who need it. I will stand up for minorities or refugees and call my representatives in Congress to keep you in line. I will celebrate life alongside my Muslim friends, my Christian friends, my Catholic friends, my Jewish friends, and my Atheist friends. I will aim to understand those who are different than me. I will use my writing to provide a voice for the voiceless.

I will love, President Trump, and I will look for the light inside every American, whether they voted for you or not. In the words of another MLK quote that I admire, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

#LOVEWINS

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Preparing to Say Good-Bye

Saying good-bye is nature’s cruel joke, and now I’m preparing to say good-bye to my best friend and my writing companion of the past 13 years.

Chance “Mazel Tov” Lopatin, also known as Mr. Man.

Headshot of my cat Chance
My cat, Chance. Photo credit: Oscar Barrascouth

For those of you who have been following my blog for years, you may remember Chance from the viral Freshly Pressed post, “My Jewish Cat and the Art of Guilt.”

Why am I writing about Chance today? Well, it’s simple: nothing else is on my mind. I can’t write about my novel, or social media trends, or books to improve your craft, or literary agents. None of it would be possible without Chance’s love over the years.

Chance is 15 years old. He’s lived with me for 13 of those years. I met him when I was just 20, a few months after moving out of my mom’s house. He was a stray who appeared from a bush, like a mirage, as I prepared to go grocery shopping.

I never made it to the store.

Chance has been more than a pet. He’s been a soul mate.

Me with Chance. Photo credit: Oscar Barrascouth
Me with Chance. Photo credit: Oscar Barrascouth

From ages 20 – 27, my life was not the most stable. I moved eight times in four years. I attended three different colleges. Through it all, Chance was the one constant. He was there for college parties, roommates, college graduation, first professional job, first major break-up, finding love again, the Great Recession, buying my first house, severance and unemployment, and finally, quitting Corporate America to launch my business.

He has been my ultimate source of comfort, my weapon against anxiety disorder, and my most trusted confidant. While in college, Chance even woke me one night, warning me of two intruders who’d just broken into our apartment.

A year-and-a-half ago, Chance was hospitalized when he became diabetic. I visited him every day. When the vet tech brought him to the visitation room, Chance rose from the dead like a Phoenix, regaining his appetite and his will to “talk.” I remember the vet tech saying, “I’ve never seen a cat who loves his human so much.”

Chance has also been my writing buddy.

Chance cuddling with me while I worked from home.
Chance cuddling with me while I worked from home.

This has been especially true since I established Shari’s Ink in September last year. Chance could never cuddle with me enough. Writing with him on my lap always made the process more warm, more soulful, more joyous. Yes, it is possible.

But nothing good is meant to last. That’s the irony, and cruelty, of life.

The sophisticated duo: me and Chance. Photo credit: Oscar Barrascouth
The sophisticated duo: me and Chance. Photo credit: Oscar Barrascouth

Chance is now growing very weak from end stage kidney disease. The looming eye of death is ever watchful. When the moment comes to say good-bye, you may not hear from me for a week or two. But at least you’ll know the reason why: that a mortal cat has passed on, while a legend has been born.

Chance, the legend
Chance, the legend

My name is Shari Lopatin. I’m a professional writer, editor, journalist, and social media strategist with a decade of experience in media and communications. I live in Phoenix, Ariz. and blog about finding a literary agent, writing tips, social media or tech trends, and sometimes current events. I also edit novels for self-published authors or writers needing help before querying literary agents. Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.


What would you do, if you lost EVERYTHING?

diceSo usually, you hear people ask, “What would you do if you won the lottery?”

Well … duh … that’s kinda easy.

But how often do you hear someone ask, “What would you do, if you lost everything?”

By this, I mean your house, your job, your car, even your marriage. I’m not a complete sadist, so I’ll spare you your loved ones and pets.

Besides having a panic attack, perhaps you’re not too sure how to answer. Well…

I can tell you what J.K. Rowling did.

According to Wikipedia (and rumors I’ve heard from others who saw her speak), Rowling considered herself a large failure seven years after graduating from college. Her marriage had failed, and she was jobless with a child. Yet, she said the following—as cited in Wikipedia from The Fringe Benefits of Failure, 2008:

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me [Harry Potter].”

This has been on my mind lately.

I won’t lie. In fact, I’ll be completely truthful. I’ve been a little quieter on this blog, because I’m in a career transition. I lost my job of more than five years after the company I worked for lost a major federal contract. It wasn’t just my job affected, but hundreds of others, too.

So now, using everything I have, I’ve launched my new business, “Shari’s Ink: Copywriting & Creative Services.” And I’m writing a novel that burns inside my soul.

I have a house. I have a life. And I keep asking myself, what would I do, should I lose it all?

Maybe I could become the next J.K. Rowling.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Death to the Spoon Gnomes!

Is it just me, or do microscopic gnomes sneak into your kitchen at night … and steal all your spoons?

Because each time I clean my dishes, or open my kitchen drawer, I find less and less of this very necessary utensil. Not only does this happen to me, but my boyfriend suffers as well. He quietly revealed to me last week that all his spoons have been disappearing, mysteriously.

I feel like whipping out my old, investigative reporter hat, and following the clues. Because this question is driving me berserk:

What happened to all the spoons?

oh-no

After nights of lost sleep and cortisol-filled panic attacks, I’ve come to one, discernible answer.

It was the gnomes. 

The evil spoon gnomes. And they all must DIE.

How dare they sneak into my house, without my permission, and take my hard-earned silverware while I’m asleep! They fool the cats, they trick the dog.

But worst of all, when the spoon gnomes strike, you can’t sip soup. Or eat cereal.

Or consume ice-cream.

NOOOOOOO!

So, my friends, I implore you. Spoon-lovers of the world unite! And death to the spoon gnomes!

If only life were this easy …

Chester on couchI know, right?

I guess this is what I get for spoiling my cats. By the way, meet my gray tabby, Chester.

Maybe I’m finally understanding what my parents felt like during the weekends, working their asses off while I laid in their bed, watching Dirty Dancing every freakin’ day.

But seriously, don’t you wish your life were THIS EASY?

Yea, I thought so.

 

The Secret to Getting Treated Like Royalty … FOR ONCE

If you’re freakin’ tired of being pushed around by your boss, or spouse, or just life in general, then you could use a little royal treatment. Right?!

So … if you wanna get treated like royalty for once, become a juror.

Oh, you think I’m kidding?

I just had my FIRST jury duty experience this week. Ever.

I was prepared to be spat upon, emotionally molested, and convicted of indecent exposure by nothing more than a raised eyebrow.

Then, of course, I reminded myself that I wasn’t on trial. This tends to happen with neurotic, overactive imaginations like mine. You get a tummy ache, and it’s automatically cancer, accompanied by imminent death.

But back to this whole jury thing …

30-Rock-Jury-duty

I finally read the back of my summons the night before my scheduled doom. And, to my pleasant surprise, I learned that jurors are the judicial equivalent to the Queen of England.

Seriously. First off, the courts opened 15 minutes early, JUST for the jurors. The security guards literally unlocked the doors, scanned the numerous desperate faces begging for relief from the bitter cold, then announced a special entry for “Jurors Only!”

All other infidels would need to remain locked outside, on the unforgiving concrete, until 8:00 a.m.

Upon entry into the palace, I learned that jurors are allowed:

  • Validation for free parking
  • Complimentary coffee
  • A breakroom and fridge JUST FOR THEM
  • Breaks any time they want
  • To bring their own food

That last item, that’s the killer part. Because no one else is allowed to bring their own food. Not police, not witnesses, not even lawyers. Only the jurors.

Should you happen to enter with a lunch box in your hand, the security guards will part ways and announce,

“Here comes the juror! Let him pass!”

royal-welcome-party

They even gave us a movie theatre.

And they didn’t play those crappy airplane movies, either. They showed Oscar-nominated films, people! From directors like Cameron Crowe and John Madden.

Oh yea, and did I mention how we got a personalized welcome from a JUDGE?

I think the next time I’m suffering from lack of self-esteem, I’m gonna show up at court and beg to be a juror. Because sometimes, we all just need a vacation.

A bad gift-wrapping job just means she loves you, dude

Yea, OK, I’ll admit it: I’m one of those hopeless romantics who read historical romance novels in high school where mid-evil lords ravaged the blossoming daughters of their peasants.

Nonetheless, I’m also a messy, untalented hopeless romantic when it comes to anything remotely crafty. Which includes wrapping paper … and that final act of shoving gifts inside it.

No, you pervert! That was not a subliminally sexual message. You shame me.

It was an attempt, in my exhausted state, to explain why my gifts—and I mean ALL my gifts—look like a wad of discarded metal feces.

But for the guys out there, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, OK?

A crappy gift-wrapping job just means she put alotta heart into it.

She loves you, dude. Congrats!

Pinterest ecardAnd sorry to burst your bubble guys, but Pinterest does not represent the majority of women out there. I know, O.J. is innocent, right?

But it’s true … Pinterest just makes the vast majority of us look like unorganized slobs who have no money, no style, and no ability to cook.

So when the atrocious monster of a gift is slid your way across the dinner table during your anniversary, or birthday, or even V-day, know it’s a labor of love. Like Frankenstein. Only more romantic.

On a quick side-note …

I just celebrated my six-year anniversary with my hun this past Sunday. Which, for everyone else, is obviously what sparked this whole gift-wrapping rant. Use it to your advantage.

Shari and Oscar
Me and my man, Oscar

Now girls, hurry and share this post with your guys.

So the next time you present him with that horrific monstrosity of a wrapping job, he’ll know just how much you truly care.

(P.S. Facebook and Twitter sharing buttons are below!)

It’s Raining Spiders … and Stuff

Ladies and gentlemen, it has rained spiders in Brazil. Yes … spiders. Rained. IN BRAZIL.

The land which gave birth to Zumba has now become Stephen King’s official playground. And you can thank the “social spider,” a group of arthropods working together to form a giant web to catch their prey.

Now that’s socialism, folks.

 

Thank you to 12 News in Phoenix, Ariz. for originally informing me of this (intriguing? terrifying?) phenomenon.

[… Shudder …]

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AND IN OTHER NEWS:

**I officially ended the world’s longest eyelash debacle on Sunday. Not sure how this happened, but I wound up with an eyelash stuck in my eye for a MONTH. A month, people. Do you have any freakin’ clue what it’s like to wake up every morning to an eyelash jabbing its way into your cornea, with NO recourse? I poked, I stabbed, I rubbed; yet that dang thing would not budge. For this alone, I think I deserve a spot in the “Guinness Book of World Records.”

the_black_keys

**The Black Keys won three Grammys. The Black Keys are seriously the coolest musicians EVER (except for my dad, of course).  I saw them, LIVE, with my sister, back in October, and they tore it up. And last night, they won THREE GRAMMYS, which means my El Camino ticket stub is now worth some mula. $$$$ 🙂 (Not that I’m selling it … suckers!)

**Java jam. That’s it, people. Jam made from espresso. A piece of Heaven really does exist here on earth. I may now die in peace.

**My cat peed on his own this morning. VICTORY!

cat in litter box

I Freakin’ HATE Waiting–Don’t You?

I may be the only writer who thanks her lucky stars she doesn’t live in New York.

Well … OK, I lied. I actually do fantasize weekly about accidentally bumping shoulders with someone like Anna Wintour (editor-in-chief at Vogue) while whimsically frolicking through the streets of Manhattan.

But what I’m talking about are the LINES. The waiting. Because I’m an incessantly impatient person who loathes nothing more than anticipating the end.

Maybe this is a bad thing.

check-out-line-wait

To be honest, I started writing this post a month ago, and can’t really remember why. So to complete it—because I owe you guys a blog rant—here are the top six things I LOATHE waiting for:

  1. Random crap at Wal-Mart. You can never just waltz into that place and buy your usual nail clippers, fish food, or hunting rifle. Because the checkout lines will hold you hostage for an HOUR. Yes, Wal-Mart will turn you into a desperate, neurotic Rapunzel.
  2. Oatmeal at Starbucks. I’m not sure if this only happens to me, but I always end up behind the slow-talker who doesn’t know the difference between a grande and a latte. C’mon dude! All I want is a quick, mini oatmeal to nourish my cells while driving to work.
  3. Rush hour traffic. It may not be creative, but don’t pretend you didn’t know this would make it onto “the list.”
  4. The cable guy. Because he can only make it at some indiscriminate time, like either between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., or 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. … on the Saturday when your niece is getting Bat Mitzvah’d. I suppose this is why Seinfeld dedicated an entire episode to said scenario.
  5. My cat to pee. I’m dead serious. My beloved gray tabby, Chester, will NOT do the deed unless I’m standing over him, purring soft encouragements that “you can do it, go to the bathroom!” while he stares at the untouched, fresh litter as I’m running 15 minutes late for work.
  6. The outcomes of presidential elections. Because the very fate of my LIFE depends on who wins! And we all know if the other guy gets the vote, our lives will dissipate into a mess of foreclosures, rotting hair and the Black Plague.

What do you hate waiting for? I know there’s something just nagging at your brain.

Pull My Finger: My Uncivilized Life with Boys

OK, so you HAVE to admit … wit on a woman is sexy. I mean, freakin’ hot.

Which is why I’ve embarked on my latest mission to find some hilarious chicas (and chicos, coming soon) on the blogosphere.

The first one is guest-posting for me today! And you know she’s funny, because Jenny Lawson (a.k.a. “The Bloggess”) reads her stuff. Heck, Jenny PROMOTES this animated momma on her blogroll … which is how I found her.

So meet Irene Barnett, who blogs over at Left of Plumb! When you’re done here, go check out her blog; you won’t be sorry.

Pull My Finger: My Uncivilized Life with Boys

GUEST BLOG BY IRENE BARNETT

Farting sign

I am not a girly girl.

I am the one my girlfriends come to when they want a male perspective on something.

My favorite roommates have always been men.

Males don’t have hidden agendas and neither do I.

They are simple, single-cell sort of organisms and I like that.

Anyway, just want to set the scene.

It was with a mix of ambivalence and horror that I approached the idea of having children. But, when I found out that my twins were going to be boys, I felt this made some sort of cosmic sense.

However, being outnumbered so drastically has taken its toll on me (even our pets – a dog, two African water frogs and one husband – are boys).

I firmly believe that my lowered estrogen level is actually not menopause, but some sort of environmental hormonal pollution that is sucking it right out of my ovaries like some bad sci-fi movie.

Here are just a few of the behaviors that I now realize I have low tolerance for:

  • Burping and farting are high art forms and if my children are the Rembrandts of both, then I am the Edvard Munch.

painting[For the love of God, light a freakin’ match!!]

  • The bathroom smells like a subway urinal … after a hobo convention … where they served asparagus and brussel sprouts.
  • They think their junk is fascinating and don’t understand why the rest of us don’t agree and want to view it every chance we can.
  • They can only do one thing at a time, and even that confuses them.
  • They are hygienically challenged. I’m not sure what half of the odors are that I smell or what part of the body they originate from, but I will probably go blind from it.
  • They are incapable of closing a kitchen cabinet door. If they could, the kitchen would just be shelves, hooks and an intricate pully system like something out of Wallace and Gromit.

Wallace and Gromit[OK, I take this one back as an annoyance. That would be SO cool!!]

The sole reason I don’t end up selling them on the black market is simply this: they are the only humans who understand that I am the absolute pinnacle of awesomeness. Somehow, despite their rather base behavior everywhere else, they are advanced enough to recognize this one truth.

And I’m not willing to give that up, no matter how bad that fart smells.

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Irene BarnettIrene Barnett is a working co-parent of twin boys and a rescue dog. She currently makes the rent by assuming the identity of a high-powered executive for a software consulting firm that is based out of Seattle, while she actually tries to live the life of a writer in Santa Barbara, Calif. (http://leftofplumb.com). Irene loves paddleboarding, movies, sitting and staring, and shiny things. She hates chickens but has a soft spot for hobos.

Photo credits:

  1. ms_saggitarius89, http://www.flickr.com/photos/55257360@N03/5223087250/
  2. rustybrick, http://www.flickr.com/photos/rustybrick/321252575/sizes/m/in/photostream
  3. patersor, http://www.flickr.com/photos/patersor/4802436959/