Check out the details of this awesome upcoming book by Amber Skye Forbes! Here is the synopsis for the book and the wonderful cover art, wonderfully done by Viola Estrella of Estrella Cover Art.
Title: When Stars Die
Author: Amber Skye Forbes
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Release: October 2013 by AEC Stellar Publishing
Book Design: Viola Estrella of Estrella Cover Art
Amelia Gareth’s brother is a witch and the only way to save her family from the taint in his blood is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims in the snowy city of Malva. However, in order to become professed, she must endure trials that all nuns must face.
Surviving these trials is not easy, especially for Amelia, who is being stalked by shadowy beings only she can see. They’re searching for people they can physically touch, because only those they can touch can see them. Amelia soon learns why she is being stalked when she accidentally harms her best friend with fire during the third trial. Fire is a witch’s signature. The shadows are after witches.
Now Amelia must decide what to do: should she continue on her path to profession knowing there is no redemption, or should she give up on her dream and turn away from Cathedral Reims in order to stop the shadows who plan to destroy everything she loves?
Imagine a moment in a story in which the protagonist finds his ex-girlfriend on Facebook. Imagine a story in which a woman falls in love with a guy through chats and comments and pictures and fantasizes about the rest of her lover in her mind. Imagine a story involving an online stalker who is everywhere and nowhere. Imagine a story of artistic melancholy where life feels fragmented and fake like a Facebook wall.
Would these stories be comprehensible to a reader without any online experience? As Lloyd Alexander has said, “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.” While our fantasies stretch beyond our imaginations, their raw materials have to have their foundation in experience. The sensibilities that the above stories depend on can only exist because our online worlds exist and we have some experience of it. These experiences can hardly be separated…
For any interested parties, here’s a sneak peek to the tentatively titled Angel Maker, the first book in The Sheriffs of Robertson County series. This prologue is done, but still needs a bit more editing.
A police procedural mystery/suspense drama (wish me luck!),The Sheriffs of Robertson County is a romantically titled, but crime-themed, series of books where the stories occur in sparsely populated, rural Robertson County, Texas; the county where I spent my childhood and the last place I’d expect major crimes to occur. Currently, there are two books in the works for this series. Hopefully, County Sheriff Dorian Storm and his associate, Detective Alan Keith, will arrive at squad room near you by early 2014 at the latest. 😉
ANGEL MAKER (THE SHERIFFS OF ROBERTSON COUNTY)
August 1977 – Robertson County, Texas
Eleven-year old Dorian tired of staring at the condensation dripping down his half-filled glass of tea. It was iced tea until a few minutes ago when the ice totally succumbed to the Texas heat. He looked at his father who was engrossed in the local newspaper. Dorian rubbed his fingers around the glass, smearing the dripping water all over the glass. He wiped his hands on his pants and looked out over the backyard. The grass was burnt brown from the sun, dried up and crunchy. Bare patches lay strewn about and red clay and sand dotted the yard.
“What are you reading about, Dad?” Dorian sighed.
Maurice grunted. “Hmm, nothing that would interest you, son.”
“Can we get a swimming pool?”
“No, sir,” Maurice responded adamantly. “No pools.”
The pair fell silent again and Dorian’s attention flittered to his parents’ bedroom window; his feet gingerly followed his interest. He stood there for a moment just staring through the glass.
“Dad, why do they call that guy Angel Killer?” Dorian asked. “The Angel Killer,” he whispered as he watched his mother move about her bedroom.
Maurice put down the newspaper article he was reading on the stock market. First he looked up at the sky, then to a nearby tree where a squirrel was ascending the trunk with a pecan in its mouth. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, meditating on an answer as birds chirped and dry leaves of nearby trees crackled.
“Dad?” Dorian asked again, not looking toward his father.
Maurice’s gaze landed on his son who still stood at the window looking in at his mother who sat at her dressing table fixing her hair. She spotted Dorian and smiled and waved at him then returned her gaze to her reflection.
Dorian was incredibly intelligent for a boy his age. School authorities tried to pass him on to higher grades to match his learning abilities. They tried to bump him from the second to the third grade, then again from the fifth to the sixth, but his mother wouldn’t have it either time. No matter how hard his father pushed for it. She said she didn’t want him to be an oddball; however, he already was.
“Well, son,” Maurice hesitated, searching for the right words. Dorian was just a kid, yes, but he was no fool. “I guess, because he nails angel wings to the backs of all those poor women he kills.”
“Why does he do that? Kill people and do that?”
“I don’t know. I can’t…” Maurice shook his head. “The man’s a devil, Dorian. Evil. Crazy maybe. I don’t know why he does what he does. Maybe he doesn’t know either.”
Dorian’s curiosity often tested his parents’ and teachers’ tolerance, got him in trouble with his friends and siblings, and often disgruntled the neighbors while he investigated all the neighborhood woes and looked for the lost kitties and doggies of pretty girls.
Dorian still gazed at his mother through the window.
“I wonder why he does it. I wonder if the police know why.”
“I doubt they know yet. We shouldn’t talk about this anymore. It gives the monster power.”
“Power?” Dorian said.
“I think it’s nearing lunch time. Let’s go in.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“I am. And your momma’s made egg salad. And guess what? She’s got us some potato chips, son. Isn’t that something? I knew she’d break down eventually and…” He stopped when Dorian’s eyes met his, squinting as he saw straight through his father’s facade.
“Because, the Angel Killer only kills pretty white girls, not pretty black girls. I think Momma’s cousin, Harmony, would be his type otherwise. Maybe even Momma. Only that they’re black is what might be keepin’ them alive.”
“Dorian,” Maurice struggled to control his temper but his shock was something he could not conceal. “Don’t talk like that! Jesus.”
Dorian looked back in at his mother, studying her.
“Jesus doesn’t have anything to do with it. Look at her, Dad. How pretty. On the short side. Momma can’t weigh no more than a hundred-and-twenty-pounds. Big smile. And her eyes are wide and round and…well, never mind,” Dorian shrugged. “She’s a bit too old I guess. Thankfully. But Harmony, she’s just like those white girls, except she’s…”
“Dorian!” Maurice leaned forward in his chair. “Stop that! What have your mother and I told you about taking interest in those things?” He bolted up out of his seat. The iron chair grating across the cement patio startled Dorian and he shuttered. “Don’t ever talk like that again. Do you want to curse us?”
“Those women weren’t cursed, Dad.” Dorian said. “They were murdered. They’re victims.”
“Victims? Stop it, Dorian.” Maurice strode into the house, huffing like a freight train. “Alice? Alice! We have got to do something about Dorian.”
Dorian took one last look through the window but his mother had left her place in front of her mirror. The room was empty. He walked to the iron patio table and looked at the front of the newspaper.
“Alice, really. Dorian has got to keep his nose out of the adults’ business,” Maurice demanded. “And we shouldn’t let him read newspapers and magazines any longer. No more Time and no more newspapers.”
“Oh, Maurice,” Alice said. “He’s just a curious boy. And too smart for his own good.”
“What? Y’all are driving me crazy. He’s out there with his curiosity all over the monster that killed those women, Alice,” Maurice shook his head, waving his hands, hunting for his thoughts. “Oh, shit it doesn’t matter. I’m just afraid of what these interests are saying about him, baby.”
“They say he’s a child with a conscience, Maurice.”
“A conscience? Are you sure? Because his curiosity about crime disturbs me a little.”
Dorian read the article aloud to himself, just loud enough to drown out the voices of his parents who did not seem to care that he might be within earshot. His father, always judgmental; his mother, always pleading and defending him.
“Waco Woman Found Slain. Last night near sundown, twenty-eight year old Mrs. Dana Caldwell of Waco was found by farmer, Gill Cooper, lying in his hay field in Robertson County. Mrs. Caldwell had been missing for three days and surfaced on Sunday. Like the six previous victims who were murdered before her in a similar fashion, Mrs. Caldwell had been stripped of her clothing and redressed in what looked to be an angel costume. Pale makeup had been applied to her face which offered a porcelain doll-like appearance, and her cheeks and lips were colored baby-doll pink. Her cheeks were sprinkled lightly with glitter as was her chest. Her assailant…” Dorian choked back his distaste, “Her assailant nailed angel wings to her back at both scapulas. As with other similar cases, the victim’s hands were folded together and held a rosary.
Authorities believe the victim was already dead before the attacker redressed and spiked the wings to her back. The Robertson County Medical Examiner said the cause of death is not apparent at this time and is unsure of any sexual assault; however, it is common knowledge that the other women found in the exact same fashion were not sexually assaulted, and it was ruled their deaths were due to asphyxiation. Some of the women were killed by strangulation and others by suffocation.
Dana Caldwell was a Graduate student at Baylor University and just celebrated her three-year anniversary in May with her husband, Carl, who she leaves behind along with her twelve-year old daughter from a previous relationship.
There are a few differences between Dana Caldwell and the previous victims, however. Caldwell was on the tall side, and blue-eyed. Based on previous reports, the other victims were all brown-eyed and shorter than Dana. And according to her husband, she was about thirteen weeks pregnant. The pregnancy has not yet been verified by the medical examiner.”
Dorian looked to the black and white photo of Dana Caldwell then dropped the paper to the table. He wondered how this type of crime found its way into his city-less county.
His mother, Alice, called to him. “Dorian, lunch!”
“The Angel Killer. Why do you get glory while everyone you touch suffers?” Dorian snorted and squinted in judgment. “You don’t kill angels, you make them. Angel Maker.”
I have not addressed this issue in a long time, but felt compelled to share with you food for thought.
There is a woman who doesn’t really know what functional really is, pertaining to marriage. A woman who has not really had a home to compare anything to, so she accepts whatever life throws her way…Complacent. Abuse becomes part of her daily life, not believing it gets any better, or that she deserves any better.
One day she is going on with her daily routine of being a housewife and her husband, who is usually drinking….Snaps. There is no apparent reason for it, but it just happens. Police come and he spends the night in jail, only to come home apologizing for what he had done, or pretends nothing ever happened the night before. The day after, varies, depending on his…
The indomitable K.M. Weiland is at it again with a new writing craft book titled Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story. We have on occasion posted on each other’s blogs and we like to retweet each other. Today I’m providing a new guest post from her that provides a bit of free wisdom from her latest book. I was given a preview draft of the book and was struck by what an easy read it is. K.M. brings to the book the skill she brings to her blog. It is well-organized, full of lists and to-do’s, the type of book you can pick up and put down as you please and still draw value from it. Without further ado, here’s K.M.
Perhaps the one thing that most distinguishes a book from real life is the fact that a book has a beginning and…
Something that anyone who does not know me personally wouldn’t know about me is that I am passionate about our law enforcement heroes. I support hard-working, brave, honest police officers world round who don’t act like bullies or criminals for no apparent cause. Now a genuine cause…that’s a whole different horse. And even so, most cops are the picture of grace under fire.
What the public refuses to understand (even though they know better) is cops have to do their jobs. They have bosses that bark orders, families to feed, rent to pay and taxes to dish out. They have to follow orders and fulfill their job duties. Just like you and me and everyone else in the world that works for the machine. I punch the time clock, you punch the time clock, they punch the time clock. Sometimes we’re doing something we love, often not. Sometimes we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into, often not. Police officers get paid for doing what they’re supposed to do, just like us. Sometimes the public doesn’t like them, just like they don’t always like us.
I worked for Walmart. I worked as a cashier, at the courtesy desk and as a back up manager. Me and my co-workers have been terribly abused by you, the public. We’ve been hit, kicked, spit on, pushed called profane names, had things thrown at us…all in a day’s work. And I mean all in ONE DAY’S WORK. Walmart management does not care about this even though it’s not our jobs to have to put up with this. But it is a cop’s job. And guess what, Walmart doesn’t support it’s employees…we only have each other. Cops, their organization doesn’t support them either…they have to support each other too.
I was once downed by a customer who got pissed off by a member of management. Out of everything I endured during my Walmart employment…this was the worst. She stereotyped me. She was cursing at me, and I kindly asked her to stop because there were children nearby. She said, “Well, if you weren’t a high school drop out, maybe you could have a better job.” OMG! Fucking…right?
I looked at the dumb ass and said something like, “Ma’am, I am a college graduate. Not only do I have a bachelor’s degree, I graduated from one of the finest universities of its kind in the nation. Now, if you’d like me to prove that to you, just wait here. It’s about 15 minutes round trip to my home and back. I’ll bring you my degree as proof. And trust me, I have no problem showing it to you. What university did you graduate from?” Her mouth fell open. Speechless. Yes. I gotcha bitch. “Well, well then….” She turned around and huffed off without another word. You know…cops deal with similar situations every day. I’ll be truthful, if that had happened in the parking lot, I would’ve hit that slacker in the face. Then the cops would’ve had to come to keep me from ripping off her gorilla mug because I have a slight temper and might resort to violence. And, if I’m after a person to rip their mug off…nothing short of an officer of the law with a gun can step between us to stop me. So tread lightly around both of us. 😉
There is absolutely no reason to disrespect good, law abiding cops. In fact, I’ve experienced so much negativity by the public, I have a sincere compassion for them. I have preached this respect to people I’ve known over my lifetime and I do not care about their responses. One woman’s response was…”Well, there was this one cop who called me a bitch.” Okay. Why? “Well, he had no reason to stop me for speeding and I let him know it. That bastard. He was a bastard…and I told him so…He told me I didn’t have to act like a bitch for no reason. That I broke the law.” Really? Re-read that until you all get it. I said to her, “Did he say you were a bitch?” “Well, no, that I was acting like one.” Good lord. Grow up. What she didn’t tell me was that while she was trying to engage this cop with her smart ass attitude, she threw a tantrum and grabbed his pen and threw it on the ground and stepped on it, then threatened to step on his toe. WTF? *insert laughter here*
At some point in their lives, just about every citizen will have an encounter with a police officer, and not just because they nod to each other while passing on the street, or because cops are the safer people to ask for directions while visiting an unfamiliar place. I mean, there will be an encounter for a reason. I’ve had a few such encounters…some where I challenged the officer’s integrity…because I can be a smart-ass sometimes. Once, I challenged a cop with a legitimate question to which he had no real answer and had to peddle all over to prove to me he was correct…and his own answer proved him wrong and it incited his sarcastic side. I just laughed at him. *shrug* It was better than losing my composure and cursing like a fool. That would’ve been uncalled for. Why should cops have to maintain grace when I don’t?
I’ve always been one to challenge authority without breaking laws. However, when I was young I had a bad habit of taking people for granted. And a cop did not teach me different, my father did (as parents are supposed to!) when he pulled a stunt on me so frightening (to teach me a lesson) that I stopped taking people and things for granted. But, I never stopped challenging authority overall. My father taught me to question everything and I do. I challenged my teachers, my clergy, the law, my parents and my bosses and company policies. There are other good, positive and helpful ways to challenge authorities, policies, the government. And treating cops like dirt because your government pisses you off isn’t the way. Anyway…that’s a blog for another day.
So, an encounter with police can be good or bad. Your opinion of them can be good or bad. However, most of the time how you perceive law enforcement is a view caused by what type of person you are, sociologically speaking. People with criminal intent, or those who are encouraged to protect those with criminal intent, tend to view cops as a negative force to be dealt with in a negative way.
For a long time, someone close to me hated cops. “They don’t do shit for you!” she often spouted. “They’re untrustworthy garbage. Pigs.” But, this person had a reason for feeling this way… Oh yes. A good one. Just listen to it: Her significant other beat her up for the thousandth time, and the cops didn’t show up fast enough. Because all those times she didn’t prosecute while they were willing to help her…was their fault. It was all their fault that her old man was a piece of trash. What could they do? Each city, each state has their laws. They asked if they could help her and she said no. Yet she kept dialing 911. They came to the house once to search for the beast. He was hiding upstairs. She knew where he was, but did not turn him over…even after it was her who called the cops. So she projected her feelings about her spouse onto the cops. She got hit, called the cops, then begged them NOT to help her. It was the cops’ burden to bear… And it always will be.
On the lighter side. My sister grew up in the 70s. Cops were “the fuzz” back then. *laughing hysterically* When I was just about 8 yrs old, I asked her why are cops the fuzz. She said, “Because they stick to you.” What she didn’t tell me, is why they stick to you. My thoughts are – and because my sister was a good, gullible kid for the most part, she didn’t know why they stick to you. You see, it’s unhappy, often criminal, citizens who make up tag lines for cops: fuzz, pigs, oinkers, coppers, Boss Hog…and who knows what else. I mean, as soon as the average citizen doesn’t agree with something their neighbor has said and done…the neighbor becomes the jerk, the know-it-all, the dubmass, what have you. It’s the way humans operate and label one another.
In my book, Someday Always Comes, the narrator, 16 year old Tessa Price has a very negative view of cops throughout the book. That was a stance many of my teenaged friends had then (1985). We were after all what would eventually be labeled as Generation X. And we still can’t be beat.
Here’s one of my true encounters with police which I shall try to relate with dignity and humor. When I was, oh…maybe 19 (1988-89 or so), I was sitting in a parking lot of a fast food restaurant. I was in the parking lot in my car with my boyfriend’s brother. We were just sitting there, smoking and talking, waiting for his girlfriend to show up. This couple approached us. They were neighborhood people…kind people…genuine…honest and the parents of a couple of great kids. They used to be hardworking, tax paying people. But somehow they became heroine addicts; known drug users and hustlers. They were good people who got caught up in a terrible loop they couldn’t get out of. I liked them. I really enjoyed talking to the woman. She understood me, and never at any time did she ever offer me dope, or try to convince me to use. (BTW, she got out of that mess a few years later. Thank heaven!)
So, we’re talking. The couple was standing on the passenger side of the car talking with us through the window. Me…the huge law breaker that I was at 19…had expired license plates, no city sticker and so was operating an illegal vehicle. Woo-hoo! Go me.
So, an unmarked cop car manned by a Pink Panther duo shows up. They position their car behind mine. They did that so I couldn’t drive away, of course. I had no where to go anyway. But it’s procedure, you see.
Anyway, Pink & Pink get out of the car and proceed to interrogate the couple. Of course, these two “narcs” were neighborhood cops…and I was very familiar with them as they patrolled our hood for years. They were all too familiar with the couple we were talking to. And sadly so. So, they frisked the guy. They don’t touch the woman since they were both male cops. They asked my friend and me to get out of the car and for no apparent reason, Meanie Pink dumps my purse ignorantly all over the trunk of my car and I stand there biting my lip as my shit rolls off the car and onto the ground. Despite that…I stood there with my arms crossed, my body language clearly challenging that cop to make one wrong move toward me. My first inclination was to punch that prick in the face because, while he was doing his job, he didn’t have to be so ignorant while doing so. I certainly gave him no cause to treat me like a dog. The female druggie was pleading with the jerk, saying I have nothing and did nothing; that we were just talking. His partner, Goodie Pink, on the other hand, just stood there with an odd look on his face that said to me how unnecessary all of that was.
Meanie Pink then decided he needed to search my car because my boyfriend’s brother was known for pot in the neighborhood and may have had dealings with the law in the past. I, however, have never had negative dealings with the law and did not use drugs, never have since then either. I was not a delinquent and although Meanie Pink deserved a shot in his kisser (& honestly, I have a bad temper!)…I complied with the law all the while he misbehaved.
Meanie Pink then got in my car and searched everything; nearly ripped my dashboard off trying to find something that might be hidden in there. What did Meanie expect to fucking find?… Elvis Presley? Jimmy fucking Hoffa? WTF, Meanie! You’re just mad ’cause your partner’s better looking than you! (Or so I remember my teenaged mind yelling.)
After his efforts to intimidate me, he had to play 20 questions about who I was and why I was there. I told him that I was always there! WTF…It’s a restaurant 2 blocks from my house. You know me, jerk wad!
Goodie Pink steps in and says something like, “There’s nothing here. Let’s go.” Well, Meanie has other plans. No, he forgot to look in the trunk. So he takes me keys out of the ignition, opens my trunk. Mind you, my purse is still on top of the trunk lid along with the few things that didn’t fall off. Well, guess what? Yup. He opens the trunk and the rest of my shit slides off. Damn you, Meanie Pink! I hope you choke on your next doughnut!
So when Meanie was done with his peacock display of power, he headed for his unmarked car, while I bent down to collect my belongings cursing him under my breath. Goodie Pink decided to help me, and he whispered, “I’m sorry.” Well, I’m sure Meanie didn’t hear that, but he wasted no time in COMMANDING his partner back to the vehicle. But, you know what? Goodie Pink’s sincere apology made me think less of Meanie and more about what kind of person Goodie was. I knew that there were more Goodies on the force than Meanies. I don’t know why Meanie was mean. Maybe life made him that way. But, Goodie was no younger than Meanie was, and therefore probably had the same exposure to life as Meanie. I guess it’s a matter of how we process and deal with stuff. Or maybe Meanie was just always a meanie. But, being a meanie doesn’t necessarily make you a criminal. It just means you’re disrespectful.
I could’ve stereotyped Goodie as being a meanie. I mean, after all, he let that cop treat me like a junkie. But, Goodie probably had his reasons. I don’t blame him that his partner acted like a jerk wad. And now as an adult, I realize that if…back at that point in time…while this whole display of thug-ness was going on, if some trash drove by that parking lot and started shooting at us, Meanie would’ve changed his focus and tried to save me, just as Goodie would have. At this time in my life, I really don’t think Meanie was a bad cop, he was just, well….a meanie.
What makes a bad cop? Well, I consider myself an educated citizen and a good judge of character in general. I consider bad cops those that steal drug money or dope they seize, or watch child porn, participate in wife beating, or human trafficking, among a slew of other things. But, and despite the brotherhood mentality, a lot of good cops can be looked upon as bad when they cover up the faults of their fellow officers. How confusing to have to make that choice.
Who speaks out against good officers? Cowards, that’s who. And even I couldn’t have said it better than this newsman, Glenn Beck. This broadcast deserves to be shared worldwide for all cop bash-ers to see. Yes, for people who will never have to stand in their shoes or the shoes of their children, and for those who do not have police officers among their family or friends. And it’s a good video to watch for those who do not know how to utilize a police officer, or a police department. Often, mis-utilization of one’s sources often causes disregard of those sources.
I have a lifelong friend – a 35 yr friendship – who is a big-city police officer. Our lives have sent us in separate directions and we don’t see each other much, but very seldom does a week go by that I don’t think of her. And, guess what, I reflect less on our friendship but more on the fact that she’s a cop for 2 decades already. And because of my love and respect for her, I thank the gods she’s never been shot, or stabbed or beat to death by some thug who doesn’t deserve to live. Thankfully, she’s no longer on the street but working in some other capacity. It makes me feel better that there’s a lesser chance she’ll be shot down by some bank-robbing fillth-bag who’s too sorry to work for a living at Walmart or Dairy Queen like the rest of us.
My stepfather’s son spent around 30 years with a county sheriff’s office. While I didn’t interact with him regularly, I was, and still am, inspired by that. My stepfather was proud though he never voiced it, and I know how his son’s job affected his life.
Growing up, I had a neighbor who had a cop for a son. For some odd reason, I was always happy to see him stop by the neighborhood. My brother has a friend who’s been a big-city cop for over 20 years. What makes them stay so long?
I worked for a short time in police services, and since then I’ve been wanting to re-enter that environment. I saw everything they do; everything they are. I saw how these seemingly normal men and women had to deal with their shift even once out of the squad car. I transcribed their dictated reports. I had to type about child rape, and murder and theft, and horrific accidents. The descriptions of what these cops saw made me want to hide in a closet for life, or more often than not…my stomach balled up in knots and I wanted to puke. My anger and hatred toward the perpetrators I listened about and transcribed about fueled an odd hatred for society. But after discussing it with the right people, I realized that not everyone in society does these terrible things, and even less condone it. Just like not every cop is bad, nor even a Meanie Pink.
I had to leave that job for reasons out of my control really. I wish I never did. I looked upon those officers, and my other co-workers who shared that darkness with me, like they were my family. I had become a part of something I didn’t fully understand before that time. I felt a part of something bigger than myself that was full of secrets and mystery, and when I left that brotherhood of police services, I left my “children” behind. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, but in a caring way. These people that are looked upon by some in society as the enemy…as terrible, awful men and women, treated me with more respect than anyone ever in my life including my real family.
Thank you, Glenn Beck for this wonderfully powerful charge in favor of cops everywhere. They are human beings with a burden that takes a special person to bear.
Here’s a little something to consider. As usual, I was in a situation to think too much. So now, here’s my babble.
HOW DO WE ASSOCIATE OURSELVES WITH OTHERS AND IN GROUPS?
I was a sociology major in college for a reason… However, at this point I cannot truly remember what the reason was. I know why, really I do. Because I am interested in the society you live in and identify with. I want to know what makes you different from me and me different from the guy that lives across the street from me – besides the fact he’s male and I am female, of course.
I’ll explain my meaning behind the above question. Who do you most identify with in society? I’ll elaborate on this to get your mind turning. You associate and identify with many individuals out there and you may not even realize it. Why? Because we stereotype ourselves as often as we do others and we do it list wise…or categorically.
List wise? Make a list of you…according to where you are right now. What and who are you? In order, list your sex, sexual orientation, skin color, religion, nationality, etc. But do not make that list in any random order. Put the most important description of yourself first in the current situation. Where ever you are, check to see if that list changes later tonight when you get home from work. Or when you set out to meet your friends at a club.
Here is mine, in a nutshell right now. I am:
Which will be #3 on this list would actually be determined by the social situation. People at my job will more than likely not know I’m pagan. And for that reason, #4 might end up #3.
Now, look at the list above. If you saw this description, which one of these characteristics of myself is more important to me? The fact that I am female. To you it might not be your gender; it may be your skin color/racial group or your age. Also these may change according to social settings.
Let me tell you how you more than likely associate yourself to certain individuals, in say, a group of 250 people. And again, these could differ if we change social situations.
Let’s say you do not have what I like to call a brotherhood profession. A brotherhood profession is a group of individuals (& their families) that stick together due to their career choices (cops, firefighters, soldiers, nurses, teachers), or maybe they’re a fraternity or sorority group. These people tend to socialize in the same nightclubs, bars, restaurants, parks, and many may live within close proximity to one another in areas such as “cop neighborhoods,” etc. Sometimes the veterans of these professions will segregate themselves from the general populations…no matter race or creed or sex. I’m not saying they don’t socialize according to gender or race, but they are a brotherhood first.
We’ll work with the ladies. I’ll use myself to help you see my process and see if you can relate. Scenario: I am the new executive secretary to the CEO of BS Corporation. It’s a big, hectic, position. I’ve been there three months and know everyone in the small group surrounding my immediate work area. I am also familiar with most of the faces in my department. As time goes on, I will become very familiar with people in other departments. But, right now, my knowledge is limited. So are my nerves.
The company Christmas party has started without me. I’m single and no friend could go with me on such short notice. You see, I really didn’t want to go to begin with because I don’t really know everyone that well and I hate large gatherings.
I walk into the company Christmas party. There’s already 200+ people there. What’s the first thing I do after my entrance? What would you do? I mean, besides grab the strongest whiskey-something you can find? You stop dead at the entrance and scan the room like a burglar looking for loot.
So my eyes fly over the room. What am I looking for? First, I’m looking for the co-workers I sit closest to at work every day. It’s a start right? A connection? But, I can’t find them, so who would I personally look for next?
I look for the closest table of ALL females. Because my race means little to me when trying to make a connection, I look for a predominantly female table. I may be Caucasian but whites really don’t identify with each other like other races often do. I mean, what do I have in common with some 20 year old white man besides our color? I find a table that seats 10 people and there are 7 professional-looking women there. I don’t recognize them, but that’s where I’m going to head. There’s one white woman and the rest are a mix of black and ethnic-looking. I don’t care. We ladies understand one another. I’ve found my home for most of the night.
So, okay, what if I didn’t find that table of women? Next on the list? I might search out Caucasians second. Okay, so I spot the mixed table of white folks. There are some ladies, but mostly men. And, guess what? I think they’re all 25 years old and by the looks of it, they’ve beat me to the bar 10-fold. Should I join them? I don’t think so. I don’t want to be the odd man out…being over 40, I mean.
Moving on. The table I seek out will have older adults. Hopefully, as old as I am or older. I spot them. Older 40s through late 50s. Oh, it’s all men. No. Oh wait. Is that dude my boss? The CEO? Never! Moving on. I spot another group of mixed individuals. I’ve seen some of them elsewhere throughout the company but never had a chance to say hello. They are not “the boss”. Some are administrative assistants, and I’m pretty sure the Afro-American dude is an accountant from the 3rd floor. I talked to his wife outside the office yesterday. She told me it was her 40th birthday. They all look my age. I’ll head over there.
So I sneak up the table of 40-somethings, a blended crowd of men, women, mixed race and ethnicity…and I’m sure D.J. is from Jordan. We all get paid in different brackets, but we all make less than the CEO and are overworked. We won’t get loud and embarrass one another either. It’ll be a nice night.
But what if I’m the shy type? The above might not take place. So now what? I revert back to my school days before I had the guts to hit that girl over the head with a food tray. I casually walk the floor, grab a drink and head over the a table that has only two people. Some odd-looking, white middle-aged guy with thick glasses and a younger white female who’s attention is on her cell phone. I don’t head for the table because they are white, I go there because there are few people. I can tell other people are or were sitting at the table but might be gone now. Maybe they left, or are dancing, or cleaning out the buffet. I take a seat that is vacant, glasses and plates untouched.
They guy looks at me and I nod to him. “May I sit here?”
“Be my guest,” he says.
He looks relieved that I’m there.
Next scenario. I get on a Chicago city bus. It’s packed and there are only a few empty seats dotting the bus. Now this is a true story. So how did I decide where to sit?
My brain’s reeling with stereotypes in the short 2 seconds it takes for me to pinpoint a seat. I pay for my ride and I see very few empty seats. I scan the bus: Empty seat, but that guy in the wheelchair is blocking it. Can’t help it. It’s the handicapped section. Empty seat by elderly Chinese guy. He eyes me suspiciously. I know immediately he’s not keen on me sitting next to him if I don’t have to. There’s an elderly Chinese lady. She looks harmless enough and normally I would choose to sit by a woman, but she is totally turned around in the seat talking loudly with the 2 Chinese people behind her and it’s annoying. Empty seat by old white dude who smells like urine and is singing Amazing Grace and talking to Jesus. Other empty seat by some late 30-something white guy who looks like a Charles Manson in the making. He’s watching me, checking me out and rubbing his beard. Oh, I don’t think so Charles!Last empty seat is next to average-looking black guy reading a college textbook and listening to his Ipod. He never looks up. I sit next to him before someone beats me to it. In my opinion, my brain decided he was the only “normal” person on the bus.
Now, it’s your turn. Put yourself in the above situations. How do you seek out comfort when you have so little control? I’m especially curious about men. How do you guys deal with the same circumstances as above?
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