So you want to quit your job?

Copyright by Incidental Comics

I’ll admit, I’ve considered at some point I’ve wanted to be a teacher, doctor, astronomer, astronaut, athlete, chef, painter, director and costume designer , and I’m not even out of school yet! I’ve settled (at the moment) to pursue something in writing.

If you could quit your jog or finish school today, what would you do for the rest of your life (kudos to you if you’re already doing it)? Any of these professions sound appealing?

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Project ROSE Is Arresting Sex Workers in Arizona to Save Their Souls | VICE United States

This is wrong on so many levels. Please, someone explain to me how this plan was thought through, organized and executed, because I don’t see how in any country this could be allowed to happen.

Culture Foam: Bubbling Up

Project ROSE is a Phoenix city program that arrests sex workers in the name of saving them. In five two-day stings, more than 100 police officers targeted alleged sex workers on the street and online.  They brought them in handcuffs to the Bethany Bible Church. There, the sex workers were forced to meet with prosecutors, detectives, and representatives of Project ROSE, who offered a diversion program to those who qualified. Those who did not may face months or years in jail.

In the Bethany Bible Church, those arrested were not allowed to speak to lawyers. Despite the handcuffs, they were not officially “arrested” at all.

via Project ROSE Is Arresting Sex Workers in Arizona to Save Their Souls | VICE United States.

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Cheap carbon copies

It is only the modern that ever becomes old-fashioned.

                                                       – Oscar Wilde

You want to write but you don’t read?

The Talent: I’m going to be a writer.

Voice of Reason: I’ve never seen you show even the slightest interest in books.

Some writers disregard the authors of the past, claiming they have no relevance or presence in the world of the modern writer. However, good writing is timeless, it revisits issues that are importance to humans of all sexes, ages, races, classes and times. Every generation reads a work and reads it differently, revealing something new about a novel, poem or play written two hundred years ago.

It may sound tedious and unnecessary, but to write well you should be able to read. Actually, you should be putting your reading into practice. To transform, immerse and captivate a reader with your writing requires first hand experiencing of being compelled by a piece of writing. If you’re unaware of a works affect on yourself how can you hope to even tickle a reader? You don’t have to go and read the entire Cannon, but you do have to read, and read often. Ignoring the greats who came before you doesn’t make you cool, fresh or new. It makes you stupid, as often your works will cheap carbon copies of greater works you’re unaware that you’re even imitating.

Can you divorce reading from writing and still be a good writer?

I’m going to write a novel. For the love of all that is holy, why?

There is creative reading as well as creative writing.

                                                        – Ralph Waldo Emerson

A writer is a reader first

You’ve heard it before: in order to be a good writer you must be well read (we’ll discuss this lovely concept in another post). Read as much as you can and expose yourself to as many diverse authors as you can, writers learn to write from reading others who are masters of writing, and other wonderful pieces of advice that do little to ebb away our anxiety as writers.

I discussed in my I don’t need you to be my hero post that it is important to find your voice as a writer through writing. I made the argument that our influences make us who we are as writers, but we shouldn’t get lost trying to be Fitzgerald, Hemingway or their likes.

So we’ve dealt with the possible extreme of losing your voice through excessive imitation, without exploration of your own writing voice. We’ve yet to look at the debilitating effects of not reading at all. Debilitating? Yes, and I’m sure after this video you’ll be using such words to describe the side effects of not reading at all.

Anyone who wants to be an author needs to watch this video:

What are some of the things that have made you the writer you are? Is being “well read” all that important? What’s your favourite line from the video? I can’t decide, but “I’ve never even seen you read a book,” is golden.

Out of mind, out of sight

Why do people assume that a “broken” brain means a “broken” mind, heart and soul?

I can’t speak on behalf of the difficulties that people dealing with mental health issues experience, but I can give my perspective as an observer. Mental health, like Black History Month, is a conversation that doesn’t end with its delegated time. This will hopefully be the first of many posts and discussions to ensue from this topic.

Why is mental health so stigmatized? I don’t mean poor mental health or good mental health, just mental health in general. People are afraid to suggest the topic, it’s like the brussels sprouts of conversations. If you have a problem with your heart, leg, lungs or stomach, you can go and see a doctor with little fear of being judged or looked down upon. Why does that change when we shift to the brain? Why do people assume that a “broken” brain means a “broken” mind, heart and soul? You’d think that something so central and vital to the human body, something so intricate and sensitive, would be approached with openness and impartiality.

Mental health, like one’s sex, colour or sexual orientation is not something rooted in choice. No one wakes up one morning and thinks ” you know what, today feels like a good day to start my depression” or “bipolar disorders are trendy, I’ll try that!” These aren’t garments or fashion pieces picked out of a wardrobe. They are garments one is forced to wear, that societal voices make only more suffocating.

Take sex. Sex deals with the physical difference between men and women. We’ve heard this before (sorry if I’m the first person to tell you this): women have vaginas, men have penises, men tend to be taller than women, women tend to bear babies. Then what society does is distort these differences, taking the physical and moving it into the societal, stereotypical, gendered and political. You have sex and then you have distortions of sex in gender, which is similar to mental health, only the distortions are amplified.

Millions of people are affected by mental health issues. With increased joblessness, stress, engineered hormones, media exploitation and other factors, the “issue” of mental health isn’t going anywhere. There are misconceptions about mental health out there, and I’ll admit, I’m in the process of re-educating myself. I wouldn’t want to be judged by my skin or sex, so it’s only fair that I take that approach with others.

Are you a feminist, sexual rights activist or humanitarian? Do you believe people are more than their skin, hair, sexual partner, situation, upbringing or religion? If you nod yes to any of these, then by default you should also be a mental health activist.

My first…

How did your first time feel? Were you anxious, unable to control your desire? Were you nervous and eager to get the whole thing over with? Did you tell anyone, show off to all your family and friends? Or did you keep the knowledge a secret, as if sharing the experience would take away from the special moment?

Well, for me, it happened at school. I remember restlessly waiting for the bus to pull into campus. As soon as it did I rushed off the bus, apologizing as I hurriedly brushed past people. I made it to the student centre, picked up my university’s newspaper, Excalibur, and flipped through the pages until I found it… my FIRST Publication! I was so giddy, I even thought of redistributing the papers amongst the students that whizzed by. I used any conversation I had that day to unabashedly promote my article.

I know it’s nothing big, but here’s the beginning of the piece. It’s on Black History Month and some of my experiences growing up in Toronto. Feedback is welcome, and don’t hesitate to share your firsts with links to your own publications. We”ll save other firsts for another time.

So, without further adieu or misleading sexual references, here’s my article:

The curly, the coily and the kinky

I dug my fingers into a tangle of thick wires that coiled around and bounced off my hand. This time felt different. My fingers weren’t running through straight, thin strands. I realized for the first time, at the age of 16, that my hair was growing.

For years, I had chemically processed my hair. It had become a regular part of my routine. Every two months, as often as someone may cut their hair, I bought a box covered in smiling black girls with smooth, shiny straight hair, and relaxed mine.

The chemical burns were a naturalized exercise of my youth.

Stiff neck, sore scalp, silky hair: I went through the process without hesitation. I’d shiver when the first glob of white creamy crack tickled my scalp; my mother’s hands were always smooth and precise.

It seemed to be a rite of passage for every black girl to shed her kinks and coils as she entered into adolescence. 

I only knew that something undesirable and unacceptable came out of my scalp and needed to be kempt and suppressed.

The rest of the article can be read here.