Back when I was writing on here regularly, I had a semi-regular feature I called “Topical Tuesday”.  In these posts, I would give my thoughts on various news items of the day and try to break the monotony of me just talking about the stuff I should be writing when I’m not doing these posts.  So, to celebrate my return to writerhood, I’m bringing this back with some commentary on the current state of our political process and a solution I’d like to propose that, I believe, would make both Democrats and Republicans happy.

We’ve all seen it.  It’s impossible to turn on the television or open a social media app these days without seeing the raging dumpster fire our American political system has become.  With the lies and money and manipulation we encounter every day, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the people of this country could ever live in relative peace again.  The most troubling division I see, though, is that between the conservative “Christian” cult that has taken over a bulk of the Republican party versus everyone who isn’t white, American-speaking, “Christian”, and a gun-owner.  The party of Lincoln, who ended slavery in this country, has leaders who have proposed that slavery might be a good thing to bring back.

Still, in keeping with the concept of putting my money where my mouth is, I have a solution to all of this discontent.  It is an idea that evolved naturally out of the staggering amount of idiots I see posting online as if others want to read their racist rants and see the pics of them holding their AR-15s.  It is simple, easy to implement, and, like most great plans for dealing with society’s problems, will not have a chance of ever happening.

I call it… the Republic of Texas.

Here’s how it would work.  There is a large segment of the United States population who favor a government which is driven by the mutated form of “Christianity” that they follow.  This brand of “Christianity”, as preached by the pundits on Fox News and various mentally ill personalities on YouTube, has nothing in common with the teachings of Christ, but is instead more of a cultural Christianity based on identification and exclusion rather than inclusion and servitude.  Instead of reading the Bible and learning to act as Jesus acted, they read it and mutilate its message to justify acting like Donald Trump.

My idea would be to let these people have the government they want.  The United States of America, in an effort to preserve peace and stop the nastiness between these cultural Christians and everyone else, would give up the state of Texas to become the new, God-fearin’, Bible-thumpin’, Gay-bashin’, Muslim-hatin’, Science-denyin’, Gun-totin’, Duggar-worshippin’ Republic of Texas.  It would be the Promised Land for anyone so dissatisfied with the status quo that they just can’t deal with common sense.  Don’t like gays? Move to the Republic of Texas.  Think Obama’s a Muslim? Move to the Republic of Texas.  Want to take medical advice from Jenny McCarthy over hundreds of scientists and not vaccinate your children? Move to the Republic of Texas.  A lot of these folks live there already, so it’s a lot easier than moving them all somewhere else.  Anyone currently living in Texas who doesn’t want to live in this conservative hell will be relocated at the expense of the United States government.  Anyone wanting to fly his Confederate flag while watching Duck Dynasty and sending money to Pat Robertson can pay his own way to Texas.  If he can’t afford to do so, then we’ll be happy to arrest and deport him (in a very Republican gesture) the first time he posts something racist on Facebook.

In this new Republic of Texas, Donald Trump would naturally be elected President.  That way, he could build that wall between Texas and Mexico he’s been wanting, but wouldn’t have to spend so much money to take it past El Paso.  With the money he’s saving on that wall, they could build Scott Walker’s proposed wall to the North just in case those sneaky Canadians try to invade with their Mounties and their maple syrup and their poutine.  Eventually, they can have the whole Republic surrounded by a great big wall, which will help deaden the constant sound of gunfire for those of us on the outside.  You could also include all the other current Republican frontrunners who have no idea that the Bible and scientific discovery do not have to be mutually exclusive. (I’m looking at you, Ben Carson.)

There would be a number of different laws in the Republic of Texas.  Church attendance – in a church approved and licensed by the Republic – would be mandatory and everyone, including infants, would be required to have a gun on their person at all times.  Anyone resembling a Muslim, a Mexican, or a liberal would be shot on sight.  Fox News would be the only channel available on television and anyone caught watching anything else (especially MSNBC) would be branded a liberal (literally branded) and would be subject to the previous law.  Anyone poor who needed assistance to survive would also be labeled a liberal.  Yearly, anyone who failed to work due to disability or inability to find a job would be rounded up, given a set of headband antlers, and turned loose in the hill country to be hunted as part of the 11-month long deer season.

The Republic of Texas would have trade, as well.  In exchange for the grain and other agricultural products they would produce, the U.S. would supply Texas with any guns confiscated from criminals and any taken from those who fail to properly register and insure their guns according to the new, tougher gun laws of this country.  We would periodically fly over and drop crates of ammunition in various places and watch via drone cameras as the Texans killed each other over a few boxes of 9mm rounds.  Some things, however, would be restricted.  The only restaurants, for example, would be steakhouses and burger joints.  If you don’t want Mexicans in your country, then you can’t have that tostada.  Likewise, any Chinese, Italian, or other non-American foods have to go.  Kiss your Olive Garden, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Shogun goodbye and get ready to eat a lot of Red Robin and Arby’s.  I hope you like having the meat sweats.

In the meantime, we here in the United States – the real United States – will go about our business as usual, but with the happy knowledge that people can worship God, Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu, or any other deity in relative peace without some rich guy in a suit telling us we’re doing it wrong.  There will still be people killed every day because, at the heart of the matter, we are just another animal on this journey around the sun.  We may consider ourselves more evolved, but the only way we show that is by the compassion we muster for those who do not deserve it.  That is what makes a society based on Christian ideals.  It’s not building walls or banning immigrants or owning guns.  It’s certainly not hiding behind empty Bible versus to reinforce the notion that one group of people is better than another.  Once all the Trump and Carson and Cruz supporters are safely stowed away in Texas to begin the idiocracy, the rest of us can set out to make America what it was always meant to be – a nation with open arms instead of open carry.

Act now, Mr. Trump, and we’ll throw Oklahoma in for free.

 

 

It’s been 606 days since my last post on here.  That seems like a long time, written out like that.  To me, however, the time has flown by, as it is said to do when you’re having fun.  And I have most certainly had fun.

Since that last post, I got engaged.  I got married.  We bought a house.  We began remodeling the house.  I got a new job as a Human Resources Manager for a large, well-known company.  I took a short vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and a longer one to Florida.  I saw the ocean for the first time.  I also finished graduate school with a 4.0 GPA.  I graduated this past Saturday.

For over four years, I have been virtually non-existent on this site and most social media.  All the people I used to tweet, all the ones who used to like my Facebook posts, and even the few that double-tapped my Instagram posts probably haven’t missed me as one lost voice in the internet chorus is hardly noticeable.  However, the hardest thing for me wasn’t giving up those outlets in which I found a sense of community that is so often lacking in my small town.  The hardest thing for me was giving up a budding writing career just as I was starting to build some momentum.

Prior to making my decision to go back to school, I spent several years learning how the publishing industry worked and dipping my toe in.  I placed a few stories (see the bibliography section for my complete publication history) and I really felt that I was nearing a breakthrough.  I had received some very nice, personalized feedback from a few agents who, while unable to represent me for perfectly valid reasons, recognized there was talent in my storytelling.  With a few more short story sales and a slightly better novel, I thought I was sure to find an agent that would help me achieve my lifelong dream of publication.

Things sometimes don’t work out the way we plan, though.  Instead of continuing down the uncertain path toward being a novelist, I turned off that path and did something that I had been putting off for fifteen years.  I enrolled in school to complete my Bachelor’s degree, changing my major from Psychology to Management, where I already had extensive experience having worked in retail management since I was barely out of high school.  A lot of bad things happened to me in the four years that followed, but many good things, including those listed in the opening paragraph, also happened, culminating in my graduation with my MBA four days ago.

One question that has been asked a few times is why I put my writing career on hold for four years, just as I was beginning to pick up steam.  Why, with a few publications under my belt and the possibility of more ahead, did I make the decision to stop writing fiction and get a damnable practical degree that would in no way enhance my chances of reaching my goal of being a full-time author?  Why didn’t I pursue an MFA instead, so I could still be doing something I love?  Didn’t I have faith in my ability as an author or was the MBA a backup plan for my inevitable failure?

These questions all ask the same thing, but they have a variety of different answers.  I went back to school for my MBA because, like many people, I can love more than one thing.  I do adore the craft of telling stories and the thrill of reading acceptance letters.  I love the clicking of the keys of my laptop as I place characters that I know more intimately than my closest friends in all manner of difficult situations.  I love the palpable hope that bleeds into every query letter and short story submission, as though each one was sealed with a kiss.  However, I also really love what I do in my day job.  I enjoy the constant variety of obstacles and the eternal ambiguity that proves there are far more than fifty shades of gray.  I love the interactions that I have with my employees, my applicants, and my peers, who have been more than welcoming in this relatively new job I now hold.  I also love the stability and pride that comes from being a qualified professional in my field and working for a solid company that appreciates my work.

I have the same aspirations of publication now that I had before I logged off here and logged in to my college classwork.  Nothing has changed in that regard.  What has changed is that, by completing my MBA, I have been able to secure a day job that will enable me to finally set aside swing shifts and uncertainty I faced before.  An MFA may have served to make me a better writer in many ways, but nothing could have freed my mind to make stories more effectively than finally having the ability to do something else I love and be paid well for it.

I applaud those, some of whom I count as friends, who do take the MFA route in hopes that it will lead them to a more lucrative place in the world of publishing.  For me, though, that simply wasn’t the right choice.  Regardless of whether I’ll ever have the freedom to write full-time, I have placed myself in a position where I can support my family, my hobbies, and my passions all while doing something that I am, thus far, quite good at doing.  To me, there is no greater joy than to have a mind clear of self-doubt and worry and that is what finishing my MBA has done for me.  Even if I utterly fail at being an author (which I won’t), I not only have a Plan B, I have the best Plan B I could possible have for me.

Not that returning to fiction doesn’t cause some degree of apprehension.  It does.  I don’t feel as connected to the pulse of publishing as I once did and I’ll have to find that again to really feel comfortable submitting my work.  After four years of writing essays on topics such as employee engagement and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, I have no idea what kind of fiction I’ll produce at first.  I attempted the beginning of a new short story last night and the results, to be kind, were atrocious.  Still, I know I’ll find the rhythm again and I’ll be ready to submit again soon.  I plan to spend the next few weeks going through the abandoned projects I had in progress when I started back to school and see if any of them pique my interest enough for me to pick them up where I left off.  If none of them do, I’ll keep putting words down until they start to sound like me again.

The internet is full of advice for writers.  Everything from “write what you know” to “do what you love” float around on inspirational memes and NaNoWriMo posts on a minute-by-minute basis.  My advice, however, would be this: Do something that allows you to do what you love.  It’s even better when you love that something, too.  That’s how it is in my case, now.  Writing is no longer an escape from my disappointing life and relationships.  Now, it’s just another thing I love, just like so many other parts of my life now.  Anything I write going forward, published or not, will be a result of that love.  Love of my job, love of my writing, and love of my life.  Finally, for the first time in my life, they are all one in the same.