A Hard Week Ahead

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A Hard Week Ahead

Seven years ago this week, my father passed away. He bravely battled various forms of cancer for 15 years. Eight years “clear”, cancer resurfaced. It continued to be a battle on and off for the remainder of his life, which ended at age 63. Way too young. From year-to-year, I have mixed emotions about the relationship I had with him and a thousand other little, and not so little, things.

On a whole, this is an extremely hard time of year for me. I know for some people, they bury a loved one and after a few months or maybe a year or two, they don’t think about it much. However, I’ve been burying people damn near my entire life. I have next to no immediate family left, and unfortunately two members of my family have really pissed me off over the past few weeks, this was exacerbated early this morning to the point of me seeing blood. Extended family pisses me off, period, but I’ll save that story for another day.

Some people have trouble with the word “No.” or, “It’s 12:30 a.m., I JUST fell asleep, I am in agonizing pain, LEAVE ME ALONE until later. Let me fucking sleep!” I think they’re simple, honest statements and requests, but apparently some people struggle with comprehension. If I tell a person at 8:30 PM that I am going to bed, then I strongly encourage them to leave me the hell alone unless their issues fall into one of the following categories.

A) You are bleeding and I am the only person within a 10 mile radius that can help save your life.

B) You’re on fire and need me to help put it out.

C) You need to be bailed out of jail, and in truth there’s not much I can do until morning any way, so leave a message and call back in the morning. Provide pertinent info, I will find you. Believe it or not, they DO allow you more than ONE phone call.

D) You are drunk and have no money for a cab. I will send one your way.

E) Someone has died, in which case, please leave a message because I really do need to sleep to be able to handle this in the morning.

I think those are pretty fair categories, but some people are anal-retentive and cannot listen to simple instructions. Consider what constitutes a TRUE emergency by emergency standards and proceed accordingly.

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My second family issue is with a person not thinking before they speak, talking down to me, being disrespectful regarding someone they do not know, and making demands that I find over the top for someone who has not known me their entire life. Moreover, after well over 10 days of pure silence from my end, they call or e-mail acting like NOTHING is wrong, but they include an additional demand that just plain makes you want to smack them.

Generally, if I don’t respond to an e-mail within a few days, it probably means I am BUSY. I do work and I DO have a life, but in some rare cases, I am ignoring you for a while so that I don’t tell you exactly where to fly and how high. 98% of the time, it’s truly just the fact that I am busy. I almost always call people back if they’ve left me a message, BUT if I don’t call you back within 1-7 days and have repeatedly explained that I am not feeling well and that I am going through some heavy shit, respect that answer and stop shoving yourself down my throat.

Unless you are my brother, Aunt, or one of my dearest friends don’t EVER call me at 10:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day and assume I am “spending the day all alone” because that’s how your day is going. I hate assumptions, you know what people say about them, so just DON’T. By the way, I was COOKING, so I didn’t have time to reach over and spend the next 7 hours “chatting”. I think my days of speaking to people I barely even like are 100% OVER. If I take the time to call someone myself, it’s genuinely because I want to speak to them, care about them, and like/love them. The list gets shorter by the day.

On an entirely different subject, it is starting to annoy me when people use languages I don’t speak as a means of “good wishes”. English is my first language. I am well know for saying thank you in Italian on a consistent basis, no matter where I am. I am also well known for answering the phone in Italian, Spanish, or Russian. These are simply things I do, BUT it’s not out of an attempt to annoy someone. In fact, I try not to do it all the time because I understand it can be annoying on the flip-side too. So why would you constantly do it to someone when you KNOW they don’t speak the language you’re using?

I have yet to decide whether or not to say something about it. In fact, the “demand of the day” is that I speak to the previously aforementioned person right about the time I plan on making dinner tonight. Mind you, I was not asked about MY schedule, simply INFORMED that she’d be calling between one time and another because that’s when she’d be home from all of her appointments today. I had a hard time not responding with “I’m NOT speaking to you right now.” I really want to tell her off, but I think it’s best said in a few weeks when I’m calmer. I really want to make a great meal tonight and do some Chanukah prep, so I definitely think pointing out all of these things is best kept for a post-holiday discussion. In fact, I think it’s good karma to rid myself of it before the end of the year.

If I’ve repeatedly said this is a hard time of year for me, you can either be supportive and back off, or simply let me know you’re available if I need to talk, but you don’t need to be a monkey on my back. I don’t respond well to tacky aggressiveness.

As we go into the holidays, do you have any family members that drive you absolutely insane and/or make crazy demands of you and your time? Or invite themselves over when you truly don’t want to be bothered? Please let me know how you deal with this insanity in the comments section.

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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After Midnight Musings

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Writers are a very different breed of artist. We create differently. We all have different “methods to our madness”, which, in my opinion, is a good thing.

I have friends from all different professional walks of life, but I am drawn to the creative, unique, and quirky. I am drawn to well thought out opinions, to creativity I would never have personally imagined, and to those that understand the deep nature of those of us who commit ink to paper.

People often expect me to be left-brained and all about logic because I come from a fact-based, opinionated background in my work. The truth is, I am predominantly right-brained. I know that if I make all of my decisions logically, I am putting tiny fragments of glass into my soul, constantly leaving open wounds. While making clear, concise decisions is important to me, I also trust my intuition to guide me in the right direction. It’s not about living a life of logic, or of heart-based decision, but a life entirely focused on my internal and external senses. It has yet to guide me in the wrong direction.

Not everyone believes in or understands extra-sensory perception, but I was raised to understand it, and I am trained to understand it, so to live a life where I ignore it isn’t going to fly with me. If my intuition tells me that a glass is going to spill and I walk away, I am going to be pissed when the glass spills because I ignored my own inner voice AND I have a mess to clean up that could have been avoided. That same inner voice is a bit of a guide-post. It can help save your life, and it can help you write something amazing. All you have to do is pay close enough attention.
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Recently it was brought to my attention that I am maybe “too venomous”. I’m not, but this was slightly enlightening to hear. Interestingly enough, only one person feels this way, and if anyone else does, please, by all means, start a club.

I promised myself that this platform would be 100% authentic in every single way. I promised myself that I wasn’t going to tone myself down, dumb myself down, edit my words, over-think anything, or be present “just to exist” and take up space. That’s not being true to who I am as a person, nor is it being true to who I am as a writer.

I absolutely refuse to edit my soul. Like most intelligent people, I know when to keep my mouth shut, I know when to back off, and I know when to stand up and speak. I am not passive or shy. I am a great observer, but I’m also not psycho-analyzing others for the sheer joy of it. If I’m taking the time to psycho-analyze something or someone, there is probably reason for it. I truly prefer to be an introverted extrovert and I am almost never bored because my brain is constantly creating. However, I’d rather be focused on what truly makes me happy, what truly inspires me, than be worrying about whether or not my words are being misconstrued.

So for future reference, if you think I’m “not nice”, you’re probably right. If I write something and it makes someone uncomfortable, then they don’t have to read it. I make avid use of the FOLLOW button too, and everyone has the right to read what they like, to read what inspires them, whatever is encouraging and supportive to them, basically, whatever helps nourish the creative soul.

When I have time, I read things. It might not be daily, but I do read your comments and I will almost always pay your blog a visit if you’ve left me several comments or liked a lot of my work. A lot of people are looking to connect with fellow writers and I think that is one of the best things about the writing community. We are a close-knit, quirky bunch. Some are very easy to get along with, others not so much, but it’s okay. We are all individuals, we all write what we write, and never should we feel the need to compete against one another or be negative because there is room for everyone.

Writing is about growth, it is about creativity, it is honest, refreshing, and a form of communication that I have always found to be quite freeing. If I can inspire someone else, or make them think outside the box, then I am proud to be able to do that. If I can encourage or support someone, then I absolutely will. I am not afraid to discuss the work of other writers or talk about books. In fact, I’m not afraid of much. However, I won’t ever be told by anyone to not be who I am, nor will I be told what to write. A friend once asked me not to be myself, and I am no longer friends with that person. Unless a person is hurting themselves or hurting others, they should be allowed to be who they are, and no one has the right to tell them they’re wrong simply for being themselves.

“An it harm none, do what ye will” are eight words that fulfill the Wiccan Rede. They are part of a moral compass, a guiding principle. What I perceive as harm might be different from what someone else perceives as harm, and the same holds true for many. There’s a difference between physical and emotional harm, I will not denounce either as harm. However, I do denounce perceived harm because that is open to interpretation. I cannot be held accountable for perception, and only I know my true intent.

Every single person perceives things differently. We do not all agree on every single thing in this world, nor would I ever expect us to. That is part of what makes the world go ‘round. Difference of opinion can bring us together or push us apart. I choose to always hold true to my beliefs, leaving room for change if I am somehow getting the impression that my feelings might be wrong on something. As human beings, we are all entitled to that. This is not a place for group-think, it is a place for individuality.

If nothing and nowhere else, allow this to be your place of freedom. It is, without question, without fail, one of mine.

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Rudeness

Rudeness

I’ve recently come to see precisely how intolerant I am towards a key group of people in this world. This isn’t about race or religion, it’s about basic common courtesy and manners. At the core of who I am, I am supremely fair and I am all about having exceptional manners.

Is it rude for me to politely and respectfully request that someone not come along and post my work, without asking, on their own blogs? I don’t think that’s a disrespectful request, not in the least. I suppose if I was a real bitch about it, it could be perceived as rude, but a polite, respectful, properly worded “Can you please remove this?” or “If you are going to do this, please ask first.” is not a great sin.

I realize most bloggers don’t care much who reblogs their stuff, but I am a writer who blogs, as opposed to a blogger, and I own all of my own copyrights. If someone comes along who I do not know and they don’t leave a comment saying “This is wonderful. I love it, is it all right for me to share it on my blog?”, and they assume it’s ok to do so because there’s a Reblog button available to everyone, then I am going to respectfully ask that it be removed. I’m not being a bitch, I am encouraging others to be original, and I am asking them not to place what I have chosen to do somewhere else. Asking if you can share it is pretty much an automatic “Yes”, not asking me is going to make me angry. No one here was born yesterday, we all know about manners & decency. Moreover, I don’t care if it shows my blog as the originator, it still feels like plagiarism to me. That is the ultimate NO for all writers.

I was reblogged a handful of times over the last few weeks and I very kindly asked those people to ask me first before doing it, and to please take it down. I wasn’t rude, I wasn’t nasty. I know the difference between my words and the tone. I then receive an e-mail, as if I am some kind of idiot or small child, with a list of instructions on how to ward off idiots on social media. My hand to God, I had the HARDEST time not unleashing my wrath. It might still happen, except for the simple fact that I like to maintain my level professionalism, even when dealing with complete and utter morons.

Here’s the most important thing for people to know on any form of social media: If it’s public domain, do what you will. Tweets, photos, memes, they’re going to be all over the place, it’s a given. However, if there is a copyright on something, especially on a blog or writer’s platform, DON’T FUCKING ASSUME YOU CAN USE IT. Even if you don’t see a copyright posted, quickly ask the blogger, writer, creator, just in case. It is not beneath me, the writer, to issue a Cease & Desist. I’ve had to do it in the past to someone overseas who stole my work and my photos and declared all of it her own, and I will not hesitate to do it again. If you wouldn’t steal out of a person’s wallet on line at a store, why would you steal on the Internet? Again, if something is public domain, have at it, but if it’s not? Ask first, because good manners goes a long way with someone like me, and many other writers don’t take kindly to their work being stolen. Again, it is tantamount to plagiarism and for me, that puts you on my Bitch Slap list. There’s no nice way to say it.

I don’t reblog a lot of things. When I do, I tend to go to great lengths to ask whomever it is if it’s all right with them. If it is public domain, I issue credit to the person when I post it. If I post a quote, I make sure whomever the quote came from is credited. If I post a photo that is not my own, I do not remove any of the tags or copyrights that might be pending on the photo. I don’t Photoshop anything in an attempt to make it my own. I have rules and boundaries, and we all should.

I would rather be overly cautious and polite, than rude and presumptive. I realize that in this day and age, I am a rarity, but I’ve gotten this far with my ethos, so I’m not worried about continuing with this particular cycle.

You will, inevitably, encounter a lot of rude idiots on the Internet and all across the board on various social media platforms. I’m happy to say I will never be one of them.

© 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Friendship -VS- “Friendship”: Sincerity Or Malice?

FRIENDSHIP -VS- “FRIENDSHIP”: SINCERITY OR MALICE?

If there’s anything I truly hate in this world, it’s people not knowing how to be decent friends. It takes two, truly. Both people have to be committed to the same cause, which is the core of the friendship and what it is built upon. Unfortunately, you will often find that the other person generally doesn’t know your intentions and you may not figure out theirs until it’s too late.

Throughout the course of my life I have had both friends and “friends”, and it’s fair to say that we all have. The latter are the bottom feeders in this world who only come to you with falseness in their hearts. They pretend to be genuine, but they’re either intimidated by you, scared of your strength, jealous of you, or never have good intentions towards anyone. Sometimes it’s a mass combination of all of the above, and so much more. They are the types of people that are 1000 shades of fucked up and, no matter how sweet, kind, entertaining, genuine, or funny they appear to be, they are hiding behind a facade and not only lying to you, but lying to themselves. They will seem selfless, but they’re selfish, self-possessed, and have cruelty and hatred residing within their souls, and they choose to take it out on people that do not deserve it, as opposed to directing it at those that do.

I can only use myself as an example here. I give a LOT to the relationships in my life. I don’t know any other way to be. Need advice? I’m your girl. Need help hiding a body? What body? No one will ever find it. I have helped friends whenever they have needed help, regardless of what that help entailed. I feel that is the right thing to do. I do not like seeing my friends struggle and suffer if I am in a position to do something about it. I will talk to you for hours about anything and nothing, and I will truly listen to you. I’m not on the other end of the phone rolling my eyes or making faces, I am fully engaged. I am loyal and I am devoted. In short, I know my worth and value in all things, but especially as a friend. It is one of the things in life I am most certain of.

A lot of missteps in friendship are based on poor communication. If you choose not to say something to someone when, and if, it bothers you, that is YOUR fault, not THEIRS. Take ownership of your short-comings. I have my own faults here too. Sometimes it will take me a few days, weeks, or months to call somebody out on something I feel was inappropriate, wrong, and/or offensive. I don’t allow disrespect. However, even if it takes me some time, I will still do it. I do not avoid confrontation, and I always feel better once I’ve clarified with someone what is, or isn’t, going on and how to come back to a good place. It doesn’t happen with every single friendship, sometimes a friendship has run its course, reached an end and that, too, is ok, but the effort still needs to be made.

If ever you want to end a friendship, as in all relationships, it is crucial to tell the other person. For one, it shows good manners and two, it brings closure to the relationship. It doesn’t matter if you were friends for three months, six months, a year, or if you’ve been friends for 30 years, have some fucking decency in your dealings with others, lest you gain a reputation for the way you handle your personal relationships. Especially with other women. I can assure you that women talk. If you’ve been a bitch to a woman and later become friends with someone she knows really well, she won’t hesitate to tell that friend exactly what your deal is. I’ve had more than one or two of my close friends warn me about other women, and they were always right. Thankfully, I wasn’t fully invested into the new people, so it wasn’t a big deal or the end of the world.

I always encourage people to communicate with me. If you don’t like something I’ve said, come to me and Spit.It.Out. Just be honest. You’re not sure what I meant by something? FUCKING ASK. Things like that frustrate me. I don’t like wasting my time with anyone, nor do I like it when people attach my name to bullshit stories that are fictional beyond words, and delusional by half.

If you have an issue with me, say it to my face. Be direct. Don’t run and hide like a toddler, and don’t tell lies. I may not be perfect, I’m certainly not winning any awards for warmth, fuzziness, or coddling, but at least I know what respect, loyalty, and real friendship is all about. Once I lose respect for you, you do not exist. If you close the door, I will put Wolverine’s adamantium claws on my end of the door so that if you ever try re-opening it, you get to hang on your own sword, and your own mistakes. That’s how it works. If you want to be someone’s friend, have honor and dignity. Unless you’re incredibly self-absorbed and shallow. I assure you, NO ONE wants a false friend.

Choosing to be a part of someone’s life as their friend is something so many take for granted. Extending the hand of friendship, to me, is a big deal. If you bite that hand, be prepared for what comes next. People often underestimate my nice factor, which I can tell you from experience, is limited. Treat people the way you want to be treated. If you want love and acceptance, be loving and accepting. If you want or need a certain thing in a friendship, as in any relationship, it is perfectly ok to ask for it. If you’re going through a rough time and you feel like you need a little extra emotional support, say so. Don’t expect everyone to be a mind reader, because the simple fact of the matter is, there’s no such thing as mind readers.

If friends or family treat you like shit and you always allow them to return to your life, you are allowing the behavior and accepting it. In fact, you’re encouraging the cycle to continue. Over time, you lose sight of what it’s like to be treated the right way. In the grand scheme, your acceptance of such negativity allows the chains to wrap around you. This extends to all relationships in ones’ life. Allowing bad behavior, accepting it, and never saying anything in response is encouraging it. If I, as your friend, have encouraged you to put your foot down and you ignore me, I lack sympathy when it continues to happen to you. Not because I’m a cruel person, but because you have been repeatedly given sound advice. I do not mince words and I do not suffer fools gladly. I mean what I say, unless I’m pissed, in which case I will probably say nothing until I cool off. If I am wrong and I know I am wrong, I will always apologize.

This was not written for any particular reason, so do not presume it is directed at you, the reader, in any way, shape, or form, except maybe in an advisory capacity. I’ve had this on my mind for a while and felt it cathartic to put it into action.

We have three different types of friends throughout the course of our lives, and in some instances, for many, many lives, until we learn our lessons and get it right. The different types of friends are “those for a reason, a season, or a lifetime”. If you’re going to be the type of friend to me that I am to you, then you’re ride or die, and you are in my life for a reason and a lifetime. I will always be loyal and devoted to you. However, if you’re only sticking around long enough to use me, please, fuck off now, and take your insane monkeys with you.

If one person is a flake, don’t take it personally. If one person is over-sensitive and cannot handle the truth, then that person needs to work on themselves and letting them fly is the best thing to do when they refuse to listen. Not every friendship is forever, but maybe that’s because the ones that are, are so much more valuable, and are built on a solid foundation, as opposed to being built on one person’s immediate interests.

In closing, I am incredibly GRATEFUL for the lovely, talented, graceful, elegant, mature, beautiful on the inside and outside, kind, generous, hilarious, devoted, loyal friends in my life. I can count them on two hands, but quality is far superior to quantity. Some have been a part of my life for a short period of time, but are no less special to me. Many have been with me for 18-25 years and, despite our imperfections and character flaws, despite agreeing to disagree, we love each other, we care about each other so very much, and we’d do anything for each other. A friend recently told me that I have been there for her through EVERYTHING, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and she thanks God for me. Another told me how people are always using her, but that I am the bright spot in her life. In friendship, things should be positive. If they aren’t, detox yourself from the poison. You’ll find a lot of clarity there.

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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