#Freedom of Speech

Grunge American flag backgroundHappy 4th! Happy celebration of freedom! My favorite freedom is granted by the First Amendment, and it’s the Freedom of Speech!

As you may or may not know, I was born outside of the U.S., and immigrated here in 2006. I’ve been a citizen for the past four years, and am very proud to call myself an American. When I immigrated here, I was looking 1) to better my life, 2) to be free in any choice I made and 3) to achieve a level of contentment which I knew would give me a sense of satisfaction not only in myself, but in my country of adoption. I left my country of origin because of the lack of opportunities, and the rigid societal structure. I dealt with bullying for my religious background and foreign origins (Dad is Jewish, Mom is German), lived my existence pretty much feeling like an outcast all my childhood and teenage life, and all I ever wanted, since the age of five, was to move here, to the United States. I knew I would find my tribe here. I knew I would be free to be whoever I chose to be, and I would not be judged for the color of my skin (which is olive but apparently here I’m considered Caucasian white, so I’ll say I tan without a sunburn), my ethnicity, my religious beliefs (or lack thereof), my origins, my political affiliations and everything else that make me the individual I am today.

I am extremely disappointed to see the great freedom we have in this country, which is the freedom of speech, which doesn’t exist where I come from (yes, censorship is real and being used) to be soiled, year after year, because a group of people decided saying openly what we thought (within the limits of the First Amendment) was a crime.

Too many feelings get hurt. Anti-bullies turn into bullies themselves. Some people aspire to live in this perfect bubble where everyone is politically correct, with a stick shoved so far up their ass, they will die from a conniption or maybe end up strangling some random dude in a fit or rage one of these days because resentments are very real, and no one is getting over them in a healthy way.

Silent and suppressed anger cause a lot of damage to relationships. We should be able to say what we want and people should be able to respect our opinions, right? In theory, we should be able to defend ourselves against the stupid commentaries from (insert here someone who really gets on your nerves) and free ourselves, once and for all, from giving a shit what people thought about us.

Let me tell you, even when I try not to offend people (and I’m pretty sure whatever I say is very far from something utterly offensive), my stomach does a somersault each time, and I feel like I’m perpetually walking on egg shells. I once offended someone because I said they should comb their hair, which implied they looked filthy, which they did. Fine. Be disgusting, don’t comb your hair and smell your farts all day long. I don’t care. I’m still going to tell you you look like crap because it’s a fact.

I’m not even frustrated because people around me are idiots, and they get butt hurt every three seconds. I’m mostly annoyed and very disappointed because there is no possibility for debate anymore. As soon as someone says something that isn’t along the lines of the majority, that person gets automatically banned, and shunned. There’s no discussion anymore. It has become impossible to voice an opinion, whatever that opinion is.

So the freedom our forefathers fought so hard for over two hundred years ago is being dragged into the mud because someone doesn’t like a particular opinion, and decided to censor it. And the sad reality is, instead of fighting the person who is censoring and clawing out bits and pieces of our First Amendment, more people support censorship. Censorship is very dangerous. You know which regimes love censorship? Dictatorships.

There is only one mind, one mold, one way of doing things. Boundaries and difference of opinions are considered a threat. It’s not even cute anymore. There was a time where I thought, why the heck did I leave my country of origin? There was no point in coming here. Yes, I get it. You want to prevent kids and fragile adults from getting hurt. But this is more than that. This is turning into silent oppression. I had one friend stop talking to me because I disagreed with her on one issue. She didn’t take into consideration my side of the story. She only thought of her feelings. How my words hurt her, and how misunderstood she felt. Meanwhile, she hurt me too with her words. So we both hurt each other, and instead of shrugging it off, we still, to this day, do not talk.

How sad is that?

I didn’t think it’d be so bad. I extended an olive branch several times. I guess it’s not good enough because deep down, I don’t think like her.

So our freedom of speech is turning into some kind of limited warranty like you get when you purchase a vacuum online. My words mean too much to one or several people, and lead them to react to what I say, sometimes with greater passion. I become the target of their anger and frustration. My original thought has probably nothing to do with them! It doesn’t matter. I offended them somehow, and now my freedom of speech shall be censored.

I’ve used this platform for several years now, and have expressed many many feelings because this helps me put things in perspective. I do not use this blog to slander anyone. I speak very often in very broad terms so my point gets across without attacking anyone personally. Little is left to say when I’m ultimately asked to take a post down.

This happened. I was asked to delete a post from my platform. Beyond the post itself, it was my expression of my feelings on my personal platform which was so violently rejected and caused so much turmoil (while the content was so broad, no stranger would have ever known what I was referring to), that I was ordered to take the post down. I’m not going to share the details. The act in itself is enough to leave me bitter and disappointed.

I’m the bigger person. I will let that slide, because I’d rather be happy than right. Deep down though, all I want to do is TP the motherf*cker’s house whose feelings got so hurt by my words they couldn’t stare at their reflection in the mirror without shedding a few crocodile tears. They disapproved of my feelings, making it all about them, and instead of saying, whatever dude, (and maybe, just maybe, consider there was one sprinkle of truth in whatever I said, and this should have sparked a conversation instead of a war), they went down denial road on a battle to make me delete my words, and discard my feelings like they didn’t count. Their feelings, however, counted plenty.

So there you have it. I could go on and on about all the times I said one thing that deviated from the common denominator and I got not only insulted by these people whom I didn’t think alike, but also literally cast off the discussion so that my disagreeing opinion would have no place there anyhow, and they could continue their little banter among themselves.

Then you just gotta laugh out loud when these same people get smacked in the face by their own bullying tactics and they lose ground on whatever issue they fought so hard to defend because the silent (resentful) vote got the best of them.

Truth is I did not grow up thinking everything in life is black and white, and if you don’t like these colors, you can go f*ck yourself. I really like red, but I guess I don’t count. If I dilute my thoughts long enough, maybe I’ll get closer to white or black, depending on which group is the loudest at this time.

There’s really no choice, is there? It’s being stuck between a rock and hard place. Freedom of speech is dying, and I feel trapped in my own head, so my only outlet (for now) is this. These words coming out on a page that maybe someone will read and get offended by. What else is new? Being free doesn’t mean much anymore. So yes, it does feel like home, the original home, and it sucks. I hate it. I don’t even know why I worked so hard to assimilate here. I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.

I hope freedom won’t completely die on us. I hope our words still have meaning somewhere. I feel like I’m part of the Resistance or something. Fighting for what’s right and just against the brainwashing that’s happening these days. Maybe someday true freedom will prevail again.

At this point, all I have left is hope.

 

 

Lost in the trend: How to improve your #averagelife

Do not be average - motivationI’m on social media with moderation. My presence is not strong in terms of how much time I spend tweeting and advertising. I have a presence, which is mostly related to my roller derby and roller skating activities. My writing does not have a page besides Twitter and this site, which I’ve always used as a platform for my musings. I do not focus on one thing in particular here, I just write. Whatever comes to mind, I type it down.

I don’t hate social media, I believe it’s a great way to discover new things. I, however, am feeling a bit lost in the trends. There is so much out there, and I don’t have a content that particularly attracts a big crowd, not that attracting a big crowd is really my goal. I just wish I could focus on one thing, not be so scattered but my brain takes me many places and I follow them to express myself.

I’ve been considering working on a YouTube channel, which needs to have a focus. Even YouTube has become a business. I would talk about writing, and other things, but again, maybe it’s a waste of everyone’s time. Maybe it’s not.

Who really cares about the average life of an average person, am I right? Maybe I should use “average” as a topic for my writing. How to make life feel less average? There are way too many make-up tutorial videos out there! Maybe that’s the solution to a more exciting day-to-day routine. Glitter and lipstick: how to feel less average. Not a bad book title. I’m not an expert on make-up though. Adopt more pets. Another way to feel less average. Get a makeover. Buy stuff you don’t need at Target or Walmart, so you get more for your money and feel excessively rich. Dye your hair purple. Workout more, join a MMA gym or learn self-defense.

Average life. What makes life average anyway? By what standard do we consider a life not to be average? Does five million subscribers on YouTube make life less average? Social media gave a lot of people a false sense of success and purpose. People crave entertainment to escape their average lives. When you really think about it though, no life is really average. Every life is rich in experiences and feelings that are unique to each and every one of us out there. We should not pull ourselves down and think we are less than just because we don’t have three million followers!

Getting lost in trends is like losing your identity. It’s letting something popular overtake your opinion, your style, your personality. Social media has become this big box where many voices mesh to become one. It’s disheartening. The expression of so many people is lost because one giant wave decided what’s cool and what’s not. I’ve seen trends before social media was even a thing, and after social media became the thing, and it looks like a lot of people get depressed because their lives have nothing in common with what’s trending right now. Instagram and Facebook show us a glamorous, unrealistic lifestyle and deep down we know it’s not real, but we still want it. We still want to get out of our “average” existence, and follow that filtered ideal lifestyle that we secretly all crave because trends influenced us to crave it.

Average is only a self-made definition of a life which is pretty awesome in itself, but when compared to others, may feel inadequate. Stop comparing your life to others, and you won’t feel so out of touch with trends?

Being on social media and not falling prey to constant comparing or trend following is a fine line to walk every time you log in! We are only human. Building an identity and sticking to it take a lot of work. Best of both worlds is to become an influencer and then ha, you get to define trends!

It’s really a never-ending cycle.

So I stay away from too much social media before my brain fries and only use it when needed. I think I’ll keep venturing down the road of a YouTube channel though (just need time to make videos…).

Alright, with that said, until next time!

Kat

Expand your world #goals #infinitepossibilities

02E39452I stumbled upon an article today that addressed women checking off items off a bucket list before becoming mothers, as if motherhood was the death of all possibilities in life. I’m not a mother yet (I’m a cat mom though if that counts for anything), but that article insulted me. I don’t believe in the death of anything. I believe in closing a chapter and starting a new one, but everything just adds up to create one wonderful human life experience. Memories and skills are developed over time to achieve one full life. I can’t imagine that kids only destroy dreams. You know what else could destroy a dream? A job you hate. A meaningless career just for a paycheck. All those things are excuses not to push past fears and insecurities and try to reach those dreams anyway. We spent so much time complaining, and thinking we were dealt a bad hand from the start. We make ourselves, we can change the path we follow if we are ready for it.

I’m not saying it’s not hard. Of course it’s hard to do anything, to have a career or start a family, build a house, become an entrepreneur. It’s easier to complain about the missed opportunities and failed attempts than to keep pushing forward. I’m one of the complainers too. I watched a TED talk the other day on YouTube though, where the speaker discussed how discomfort helps you grow and achieve your best potential. We cannot find ourselves by limiting our lives to the routine, and to what we know. Expansion is the solution. Discomfort provides that expansion because it forces us outside of our comfort zone, and redirect the spotlight away from ourselves and onto the new situation we’re dealing with. It’s hard to feel good in an uncomfortable situation because duh, it’s uncomfortable, I however would not find solace in my life any other way.

So all we need is that push off the cliff, right? Whether we take the jump, or someone else forces us to jump, it’s incredibly freeing to let go of everything and just leap. It’s scary as hell too. Where am I going to land? What am I going to become? Am I going to lose everything?

There’s no shame in being afraid. Fear is healthy. What is not healthy is to let fear rule our lives. Financial insecurity is probably the biggest fear. How am I going to pay my bills? Instead, we should maybe look at how much we are paying, and whether some expenses are unnecessary? There are a lot of superfluous obligations that have been piling up over the years because we thought they made us feel secure. The fancy manicure, the massage, or the going out every weekend, and whatever else we think we need because we lack that sense of fulfillment in our every day life. All of that needs to drop so we can really assess what is essential to our development. It’s hard. It’s hard to walk away from the routine. It’s hard to take a good look at things and decide to sacrifice what we think made us happy when in reality it was but a band-aid over our real goals and ambitions.

There’s no bucket list if we look at life as a big playground with immense possibilities no matter where we are in life. Whether we choose to follow certain opportunities is up to us. Life situations are not meant to bend us one way or the other. I grew up in a small town in France, and ended up in New York City at age twenty-three because that was my ambition and I did everything in my power to make this dream a reality. I sold all my belongings, I cashed out the little money I had in my savings account, I planned as much in advance as I could, and I left home. I had two suitcases and one backpack. That was it.

Of course I was scared. Of course I wondered for a few months if leaving home was really the best idea, but I stuck to my guns because deep down I was making my dreams come true. I expanded my horizons, I chased the unknown and I leapt as far as I could.

I faced a lot of obstacles along the way, because no trajectory in life is ever straightforward, but I held on.

Becoming a mother, or losing a job, failing at a relationship, none of these events define you just by happening to you. They define you because they force you to change your perspective, and the push into the unknown makes you reassess everything. Whether you decide to maintain the status quo and regret the past, or you accept the new situation and adapt to it is entirely up to you.

In this day and age, we can truly achieve whatever we set our mind to do. Limits and boundaries keep vanishing so why are we still restricting ourselves to the stupid routine?

The world is full of possibilities, and my job is to take advantage of them to fully realize myself. I would not find contentment any other way. Putting in the effort is up to me, and maintaining that effort despite difficulties will be key to my success. I strongly believe I can do it because I only feel free when I let go of the familiar, and dive into the unfamiliar.

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This is it #makeover

The makeover of the site is finally done. I like the change.

I’ve been sort of working on my latest story, but life sorta got in the way. It’s hard to sit quiet and focus on the writing when I can’t sit quiet for more than twenty minutes. I need a change. I always say that. I truly do though. I admire those who take the jump and give up their cushy corporate jobs to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. It takes balls. I have such dreams but now is not the time (yet) to do anything. As much as I would like to say “screw you adulting”, I have responsibilities. It’s easy to jump into the wild but sustaining that lifestyle is an entirely different playground.

So yes, I’m writing when I can. I will try to make progress today. I’ve downloaded that new app called Werdsmith and it keeps track of all my changes on the go. It’s easy to use.

Until next time…

Dig Deep #psychological #thriller #new

Thoughts thoughts thoughts… too many of them. I started writing again, and here they are keeping me up at night.

My fault for getting aggravated over things that are not worth wasting my breath on. There are battles I cannot win, why do I still choose to fight them?

So I get pissed off at things, then let them go, and instead focus on the important. I’m working on this new story to get my feet wet again, and am aiming for 30,000 words. I’m at 2,200 now. It’s a psychological thriller, with comedic elements.

I mean, the main character’s pet is a cat, and does funny stuff, so at least this part will make you laugh?

That’s pretty much it otherwise.

Spring is coming so I’m tired like the rest of the world.

Until next time…

Conversation(s) with Death (aka Delirious Musings about the Writer’s Block)

Great way to start a Friday! Look at me firing the engines like it’s the Fourth of July! Four posts in three days, something good must be brewing.

I want to talk about the writer’s block. Inspirational drought. Loss of prose, reading appetite and everything in between, the death of a writer. I blogged about having the block, capital B-asshole-block, years ago when I was but a young pup and really thought I knew what I was talking about.

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Can you hear them laugh? Because I certainly can!

Gosh, my block was like premature ejaculating for a teenage boy, annoying but never really impacted my work to the point where I really considered myself retired from the writing world. In other words, I hit dry spells but could still half decently screw the shit out of a manuscript and feel pretty good about it. Graphic enough for you? Because I just got started.

Anyway… fast forward to the past four years. What forced this terrible drought upon me (and you because you are fully part of my creative process)?

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Well… like I said before here life was shitty and then got considerably better. I did not have pain as fuel to guide my process anymore, so I dried out like a sad sad dying flower.

It was an adjustment, no doubt. Life is just completely different for me. I still have bad times but they are nothing in comparison to the hell I went through. Writing happy is not the same as writing depressed. But something else interfered with my musings too. I think I was in it for something else than writing. I wanted validation, acceptance, instant success and a large following that would provide me with the love I couldn’t find within myself. Once I discovered that love, I said fuck this shit, I don’t need y’all! I basically went from one extreme to another.

The writer’s block is a personal struggle. I did not understand that. There’s no magic pill or potion you can take to beat it every time. While my life did a one-eighty, my writing halted. My ideas simmered quietly in the background. I watched more than I read and I learned to live outside of the realm of words. I discovered unspoken emotions and feelings that did not have a place on my page years ago because I did not know about them. Now I get it when people say writing is all about experience. You can be a young pup and write about fantastical worlds all day, but you need to have lived to sprinkle a dose of reality and credibility to your stories, so that the reader can fully immerse themselves in your universe (and hopefully never want to come out).

I attended a writers’ conference years ago (my only one) and everything that was talked about there was just a big old sales pitch. How to write your next best-selling novel? How to see it on the big screen (and have a hot and promising heartthrob portray your main character, preferably shirtless because we all love a nice pair of male nipples, am I right)? How to craft a catchy opening chapter? What makes people buy your book like it’s crack?

Granted, it was a romance writer conference, and I don’t do romance. But I’m pretty sure other genre conferences follow the same format mostly to attract the ones who want to hit that best seller list, and tell all their friends “I made it!”

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Just like about anything there are clinics you can take to learn all the tricks, you can search Google all day or you can pay experts aka best-selling authors to rob you of your creative spirit. Yes, they are really good at convincing you you need to change your voice to fit in to the likes of a specific audience (usually females age 18-49).

So you end up talking with people about YOUR project, and they manage to drive you as far away as possible from it to sell you THEIR project. Some agent talked to me about writing stories that take place in the 1920s, because why not? Meanwhile I’m trying to sell a paranormal story that plays very much in 2014. Granted, it was not romance but still, there were agents out there who looked for other genres.

It’s like pitching a new TV show. You try to be original, but they steer you to recycle ideas. Give them a spin in a new costume and maybe a horse carriage. Like how many versions of Glee do we need? It’s sickening, you start vomiting on your own prose and you constantly doubt yourself because you don’t know anymore if what you like to write is what people like to read.

Mark my words. After being brainwashed by many many many people, and my slogan is To Thine Own Art Be True, I strayed so far away from my art, I barely recognized myself.

Because I listened (I’m a good listener) I had retained everything that was said about trends and styles, and openings, and catchy words and all this shit in my brain, I ended up changing a story, which was not good to begin with because of xyz reasons that would be too long to explain here, but I changed it, and my character, originally an adult in her late twenties, became a seventeen year old brat.

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I wrote YA. I have nothing against YA authors or readers, good for you if you love teenagers. I personally fucking hate YA. Yes, the cursing is necessary. Because I’m at a point where this gives me a physical reaction of absolute and undivided rejection when I think of YA. Like even if it sells, I can’t fucking stand teenage angst. Give me a seventeen year old who knows nothing about life but her struggles are oh so compelling. You know what she needs? A job. Once you start trekking to work you start to appreciate free time. The process of digging into a genre I freaking despise felt like breaking a leg over and over again. It was just a painful and horrible process. I should have stopped it in the starting blocks. I should have trashed it, and went the route of my usual stuff. But I wrote YA because good people (friends) told me it was trendy and I’d get a bigger shot at attracting readers. I sold my soul and I didn’t stick to my guns. I listened to the advice, refused to listen to my own gut, and went down the YA path which was unappealing, full of stuff I did not care to discover and I really committed to the process too, which made the experience even worse.

Writing should not be painful. Not like this at least. Editing is. Fine, but writing should be free, and fun, and even if the stuff you write about is dark, and challenging, you should still enjoy it, otherwise why do it? After countless full rewrites, I managed to write a YA book about drug addiction, which isn’t so glamorous so no, my stuff ended up being not so relatable to the general public. Sorry, no Prince Charming here. The biggest blow though was when I was finally done, and I sent a copy of the book to a good friend, they did not read it (although they love YA), they critiqued the cover as not being YA enough, and then proceeded to comment that they love to read books that have a message, and talk about real life experiences (which I thought my book was about because drug addiction, you guys).

I should have let this one go. I should have not expected instant gratification or any kind of support although I thought I deserved at least a little bit of support, especially after reading YA books just to be a good pal. I learned people are people and they are not as perfect as I think they are, and they will fail my expectations. There’s no bad blood between this friend and myself, I never really told her how I felt anyway, and I don’t think it’d change anything if I did, so I’m letting this one go.

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Calm and serenity. 

My YA story was really about me though. I had a lot of anger that had to get out. I was a thirty year old female living in New York City and fighting her demons one bottle of scotch at a time. Some people said my drinking was not so much a problem as it was a crutch. Nope folks, my drinking was a problem, a problem that could have cost me my life. It took me a lot of introspection to realize that, and to move away from that.

Oh this got real serious all of a sudden. Here let’s lift the mood up. I’m fine. I got through it. But walking away from my true original goals and writing YA was simply not a good idea. In the end I managed to write a novel, which is still profound, and good, and will teach you something, but please don’t fit into a box. This is art people, we are not supposed to have boundaries. You create the rules. You define which ones you want to break. There is a voice for everyone. Fitting into a category just because people say so is just the stupidest way to ruin mojo.

You gotta find your own muse. You can’t use someone else’s. I’m not a YA author. I write horror, I write paranormal, I write sci-fi, but deep under the layers, I write about me. My characters get shit faced, they fuck strangers and they regret it the next day. My characters are dark and funny, and they all live in New York City even when I send them in outer space. I think my biggest mistake is that I tried to pasteurize a product that wasn’t meant to be clean and pretty. It was meant to hit you in the ribs and make you choke on your own blood. I could not do that with YA. Right, you’re going to tell me The Hunger Games or Divergent are pretty gory, so it could have worked. Yeah, it could have, except I don’t want my main character to be a virgin, and teenager. I want my characters to have lived, and sinned, so they can find salvation. I want them to have experienced life just the same I am experiencing it. With the good and the bad, everything that makes us human is what I like to write about, even in a fantasy world.

I get it. I’m not mainstream. Although multifaceted dark characters and noir backdrops are pretty trendy on Netflix. I don’t care about mainstream.

So there you have it. My block was all my doing. I didn’t stay true to myself. I signed some imaginary contract with some imaginary publisher targeting an imaginary audience and putting all the elements in my book I thought you’d like. Don’t get me wrong, the book is good stuff. But it’s not true to me.

Therefore I’m starting fresh. I’m dusting off the works in progress and we’re going to get real and dirty. You’re going to feel my dread. You’re going to feel my anguish. You’re going to ride the roller coaster and you will ask for more on the way down. There is pain in my story but this pain gave birth to a beautiful muse. She’s much more beautiful and kind than my old bottle of scotch, that’s for sure.

I’m not dead yet. I never died. I just got turned off, and stuck to a mold that wasn’t for me. As much freedom as writing gives me, I turned my writing process into a jail cell. The block had been self-imposed, left a bad taste in my mouth, and really made me believe I was done.

The muse woke up though. I don’t know why now is the time for her to wake up, but I’m grateful she did because I have a lot to write about.

Let’s waste no time then!

Website Makeover and Pen Name

Looks like I will be posting more, which is always a good thing. I checked last time I uploaded new content on my website, and shame on me, but last upload was sometime in 2014. Like I said. Shame.

It’s okay, like good wines, I needed my time to mature. I am also considering writing under a pen name, which I wasn’t interested in when I first started publishing but now it makes sense. I like to separate church and state. So I used a random name generator, and came up with Katarina Lebeau which doesn’t sound too shady. It rolls on the tongue.

The website will take some time to transfer over and get its makeover, but the blog will remain and I will change a few things here and there to bring it up to modern 2018 times. The logo shall remain the same, since it’s my brand.

By the way, the brand can be a little obscure so this shall be explained as well. The Manicheans’ concept was born in 2010 from a very casual conversation I had with a friend, also author, after she read the word from some random “word of the day” site on her phone. Manicheaism is a religion or philosophy based on a supposed primeval conflict between light and darkness. It spread widely in the Roman Empire and in Asia, and survived in eastern Turkestan (Xinjiang) until the 13th century.

Basically, Manicheaism explores the duality within us and the world between light and dark, positive and negative. I liked this idea very much because it represented, and still represents, very basic principles, on which I can build any arch I want. I didn’t think I’d use the Manicheans as my brand as much as I wanted to write (and it’s still a work in progress) a trilogy titled The Manicheans. This is my life project at this point. The books promise to be long, extremely complex and probably will get buried under a thick layer of dust once published, unless used as paper weights, but they will be (at least that’s my intent) very exciting to read.

After years of silence, I think I’m ready to kick ass. I don’t want to speak too soon, and I certainly want to keep building up on this writing every day goal I have, but I think I’m ready now to explore new things.

Before the Manicheans get out, I want to try to finish a novella I started at the end of 2016. It’s sci-fi. My new goal is to publish it this year. Start new. As Katarina Lebeau. And take it from there.