opinion

Division, The Disease Afflicting America.

The Year TWO THOUSAND-And-EIGHTEEN, An Insight:

I believe there’s a disease in America, and I believe this country’s been sick with it for the last thirty or so years. It’s not a contagious disease, mind you, nor is it an acute type. This particular disease is chronic, and most importantly, it’s confined solely to America. We’ve  tried treating it with all sorts of fantastic medicines and social revitalizations; what we’re unfortunately not realizing, I believe, quickly enough is the ineffectiveness of these so-called “cures.”

I call it, Division, Latin Name: divisiona americo, and it’s a systemic ailment. It’s not confined to New Hampshire or Texas or Ohio or California or Wyoming or Rhode Island or Kentucky. It’s nation-wide, and let me tell you, when something this critical has such a  wide-reaching net, then it’s difficult to immediately diagnose its symptoms. Doctors (not necessarily all MD) have worked tirelessly over the many decades to isolate a possible weakness, some kink in its mechanistic armor. Division has no cure. Its symptoms are wildly inconsistent, and they pop up in the least expected occasions, EX: rallies, fairs, supermarkets, restaurants, the office building at which everyone seems reasonably peaceful and similar-minded. Division is hard to detect. It is both airborne and seaborne, and its greatest (and strongest) form of transportation, Socially Spread. No expected resolution is anywhere in sight, and millions and millions of American citizens are either contracting it, or they’re in slight fear of being affected by Division.

Division spread itself over America a number of years ago, and at this current moment, it’s at one of its highest peaks in over eleven years. Citizens who contract Division are defined by the following symptoms:

  • Unaccepting of other people’s opinions.
  • Agressive diatribes against one another.
  • Rhetoric, with the sole purpose of angering other citizens.
  • Over-exaggeration of extremely rare instances of the previous three symptoms.
  • Cruel, bully-like actions used to serve self-interests.
  • Violent outbursts, otherwise defined as Mass Shootings.

As you can see, there’s several symptoms of varying intensity. Citizens rarely experience all of them, only one or two–and it will be an extremely unfortunate day when all citizens experience all symptoms, which, by statistics and common sense, is 99% impossible. That doesn’t mean Division isn’t a relevant issue; in fact, it’s tearing America apart. If any other diseases wanted to afflict American citizens, there’d be no greater time than now, and it’d take a long time to find a cure to them.

Division by itself is quite harmless; in fact, it’s only as bad as it is because American citizens continue to spread it. Talk about not washing your hands, these people aren’t following all the regulatory Health Guidelines of resting up and finding ways to lessen the effects of their ailments. It won’t be long before WHO sets up a National Quarantine and declares Division an epidemic; they may be already working towards such actions as we speak.

To those in foreign countries around the world, Division may seem a trifle compared to your much more significant issues, but here, it’s a large problem, and no one is willing to step up and find ways to combat it. If no one does something about it, it may spread and grow, becoming more than America can handle. Then what? Then what?

As long as Division continues its harsh reign, many of its symptoms will ingratiate themselves further into places of American society, possibly the rest of the world–although, the latter is unlikely.  It’s no wonder, then, that millions of American citizens currently suffer from Division and its ravaging effects. People are content in their sickness; they see no problem in it–and therein, as Hamlet might say, lies the rub.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Photo Credit: iStock.

 

 

 

Our Second Anniversary–A Few Words.

How is everyone tonight? Maybe you’re a bit average, and maybe you’re above average: excellent or enthusiastic or terrific, all those fancy words that lost their meaning the tenth time they were used.

I am doing well; in fact, this long hiatus has done me some good. I am nearly finished with the first draft of my third novel, Society, At Large, and I have got to tell you, it’s one hell of a book. I’m proud of it, as I hope many others will be after publication.

Sophomore year of college, too. Who’d have figured? Comes up so fast, life does, as I’m sure many of you know. Done many things. Met many people. Written many words. Thought about–I’ve thought about quite a bit, much of it good, some of it obsessive.

I’ve learned about the current politics of the U.S.A. Y’know, Donald Trump and Kim-Jong Un; my, that was one historical meeting, wasn’t it? Politics, to me, are so interesting because, with politics, there’s never a clear answer to anything. There’s dozens of factors to consider, people to talk to, and tasks to delegate before making a decision. I question why anyone in their right mind would want to involve themselves in that crazy world seemingly separate from our own.

I’ve noticed they appear everywhere, politics do, especially at college. You can be sitting in the lunchroom, chowing down on a pizza, and hear someone discoursing on the pros and cons of America’s economical situation. I dunno much about the economy, still learning about it; however, I have my friend Adam Smith to help me out. He has one book, but I’ve heard it’s a killer.

What’s my point here? Am I attempting to sketch out the previous events of my life in uncoordinated fashion? Am I reaching for some truth I can’t ever find in life, but which I hunt down so ruthlessly in words? Is EVERYTHING for the sake of, what, a few views and likes? Put it like that, and it makes it sound like a social scam, a ruse I’m putting up for no known reason. Deception is a word that comes to mind, but–

I don’t know.

I don’t know why I do this, why I continue to do it. Call it energy or life blood, either way, it’s not a matter easily settled in a couple short discussions. At the tip of my tongue every time, it feels like, escaping me, and I never find out the truth. It’s always gone before I reach it.

Thoughts of A Southpaw’s 2-Year Anniversary was at the beginning of this month. I missed it, but I’m making up for it now. This anniversary somehow means more to me than the first. I can’t imagine why it would, but as I said, the truth escapes me when I need it most.

This year was interesting. It was fun, and it was sad. It was exciting, and it was depressing. I discovered many things about myself I wouldn’t have, had I not taken a break. There’s so much I want to say and do, make some change in the world, and writing makes feel like I can accomplish all of that and more.

People can talk about empty promises and holding themselves accountable, and they can be absolutely bullshitting everyone. Only I know if I’m doing that, and I don’t think I am. Writing is my power, and I’m learning how to wield it as I grow older. Above all, I see writing as a tool that when used in capable hands, can make ripples in the waters of the world, be they of good or disastrous intent. It depends solely on the person holding the pen.

Perhaps the truth will always escape me. It’ll scurry away whenever I’m close to catching it, and despite my best attempts to stop, I’ll keep going. We all desire some truth, some ideal we hold ourselves to. Don’t be ashamed of it; rather, be proud of your drive and intellect, your spirit and action. Grab it by its collar and shout in its ear, “I’m coming for you!” Feel it shrivel at your will. Whatever power it holds over you is no greater than the power within yourself, that power you control, that you display.

It’s taken me some time to figure that out for myself, and I can only hope it doesn’t take as long for you.

Years will come, and they will go, but time will always remain within your power.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

Photo Credit: Emily Lotka

IT’S TIME TO TAKE A STAND!

Just heard about the terrible Santa Fe school shooting that resulted in the loss of ten lives, ten, innocent lives. Shooter was a student there, 17 years old, a Football player–stuff like that’s rough to hear.

My brother’s going into high school; this next year he’s going to be a Freshman. Is this the kind of world he’s going to have to grow up in? Is there any way to prevent it, or at the least, drastically lessen the chances of more shootings occurring?

That’s two major school shootings, Parkland, now Santa Fe, within the span of three months. Those are the major ones, too; I haven’t mentioned the countless other shootings that haven’t made the news for one reason or another. That shouldn’t be an increasing statistic; in fact, it should be non-existent: NO MORE SCHOOL SHOOTINGS WHATSOEVER!

I’ll tell you this, too, I don’t believe guns are the answer. Anyone with the motive to harm another human being is going to do whatever they can to accomplish that. Take away guns, they’ll use something else–take away that thing, and they’ll find another and another and another.

It’s a matter of mental health. These kids and adults that shoot up these schools are either mentally disturbed or in poor social situations. Now, I’m not saying what they did wasn’t wrong, but we need to look at their root causes: what is driving them to kill?

Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris (Columbine): Bullied, Poor Family Relations, Mentally Unstable.

Nikolas Cruz (Parkland): Bullied, Poor Family Relations, Mentally Unstable.

There are clear similarities between all of these school shooters, and those are what we should be focusing on. Prevention and early detection are key in these situations: but little is being covered about them in the media.

So we need to take a stand and say something about the avenues we should take. There is no definite answer, no miracle solution, to anything; however, we can examine these possibilities and work towards creating a better future for America.

Human lives come above all else.

Stay strong, Santa Fe; measures will be taken.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

Mountains

Sometimes I feel like I just want to go into the mountains, say “Fuck it,” and just stay there for the rest of my time. See it as some kinda therapeutic practice–some bullshit excuse for not wanting to deal with all the stress of everything; and man, I dunno, but college is a hard fucking thing.

It doesn’t get easier, that much I know is true. It’s not even fun half of the time. Is it supposed to be? Am I missing some great answer; this grand illusion is obscuring all that I can see?

What am I supposed to be, a nicely dressed, nicely combed college student who swears up and down all of that scholarly shit that’s not even truthful half of the time? What the hell’s with people nowadays, anyway? Half the time, they’re preaching stuff I doubt they even believe; the other half the time, they’re complaining about the truth of the matter, leaning in favor of the candy-coated, cherry-on-the-friggin’-top version.

Truth is, it ticks me off. Oh, yeah, you think I’m into that? Hell no.

I don’t wanna feel like I’m pretending anything, either. It’s like we gotta wear masks everywhere we go in this life, switch them out for different occasions; it’s a load of crap, man, I tell you.

Be who you’re gonna be. Yeah, Barbie sang a song about it, so maybe she’s got the right idea.

Be who you’re gonna be regardless of what people say, think, or do, ’cause the only person it matters to is you.

Sounds easy. It’s not. I’m sure most of you, if not all, know that, might even have trouble with it on a day-to-day basis.

Keep fighting the good fight, though. It’s the best you can do in this world, just keep your head up; but I know most of this will go over most of your heads, as we only listen to the advice that sounds good to us.

Right? Wrong? All of the above?

I dunno.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

From the Standpoint of A Teen…

What’s up, everybody?

I haven’t seen you guys the past few weeks, been hectic with college starting back again. I got papers and more papers. Not to mention, I’m also working on two of my novels, trying to salvage enough time to accomplish all of it.

I’ve been good, y’know, being eighteen, getting used to Life; although, I’ve been getting used to it since I came into this world. It’s not as if once you leave high school, you’re initiated into this Adults-Only Section–and no, I’m not talking about the place where they store the dirty movies.

That ticks me off. Not the dirty movies, just the adults who forget what it’s like to be young, to have a fresh view of the world. I’m talking about the adults who patronize those on the fringes of adulthood: this teeter totter that rocks perilously over either side of an angst-filled abyss.

We don’t have a friggin’ map. People don’t provide one for us, and most of the time, we have to cut our own path through the jungle. Machetes are not provided. Also, water evaporates fairly quickly.

Guess I let it get to me sometimes, which is not so bad as it is disheartening. I think it’d be better if we all shook hands and congratulated one another on our accomplishments–but the world can’t always be so black and white.

We have different perspectives for a reason, yeah? For one, we’d be super bored without them. Imagine having a conversation with someone about Lord of the Rings, and for some reason, the other guy is as big a fan as you are, which should be impossible, ’cause you’re number one, right?

That’s to say we’re all a number one in one area of our lives. Least, I like to think so. Maybe you’re number one at pool or darts; hell, give hockey a shot, and you might end up in the NHL.

Chances, man, take ’em, but don’t get me started on how many times I’ve missed out on publication opportunities because I’ve forgotten the deadline. Yeah, I’m working on that part, getting better, though; y’know, learning from failure.

I know for a fact that the majority of my followers are adults, so, if you’re reading this, lemme plead to you from the standpoint of a teen:

  • We’re not all lazy, and if we are…we’ll work on it, got eighty more years, anyhow.
  •  Getting a job is not as easy as it used to be, but we’ll bust our asses until we find one.
  • Lastly, do you remember when you were our age?

Yeah, yeah, I get it’s called a generation gap, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it; and besides, the best way to get past a gap is to build a bridge.

A metaphorical one, of course.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

Alex Schomberg

Does Genre Fiction Get A Bad Rap?

So, is it just me wondering this, or are there a bunch of you curious about the same thing?  Genre Fiction. This is Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, you name it; it’s everything except Literature, and it doesn’t look like its reputation in the the writing community has become any less infamous.

I’m a writer and a reader. I love all books, be they The Silence of the Lambs or Tess of the Durbervilles. ‘Course, the quality wanes in some books, and in others, it surpasses my expectations, but, man, that goes for everything on the planet.

What I’ve noticed, though, is that Literature often criticizes Genre Fiction for not having enough beautiful, inspired prose, while Genre Fiction complains Literature can be boring as hell.

I can see both sides of the argument, and I understand them. They’re rational, for one, and, well, you’re not gonna go to Tarzan of the Apes looking for artful sentence structure, and Tom Wolfe’s writing is not so heart-pounding and adventurous, as it is introspective and inspiring.

The conflict; however, boggles me. Most genre fiction is influenced by classic literature.

We wouldn’t have I Am Legend without Dracula.

We wouldn’t have Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone without The Fellowship of the Ring.

We wouldn’t have Jaws without Moby Dick.

See, comparisons are scattered all over history, but most times, people forget to look.

It’s all art, right? At the end of the day, man, they’re just stories written for different purposes, drawing out different lives and scenarios, putting characters against unimaginable conflicts, hoping they’ll survive.

Books are great. Art is great. Literature and Genre Fiction are great.

Yes, they’re separate in structure and character and conflict and other writerly mumbo-jumbo, but they are connected through the art of writing; and since both are written–well, there’s one comparison.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

Photo Credit: Alex Schomberg

 

How To Grow A Serial Killer

Meet Bill Sykes, a nice, caring, six-year old boy, who lives in a Catholic-oriented house on the brink of foreclosure, due to insufficient payments.

Bill has schizophrenia, but has never been diagnosed.

Ronald and Rebecca Sykes are Bill’s parents, each of them having fallen out of love with each other since they slipped those brass rings on their fingers.

Ronald is a construction worker who is paid a measly wage of $10.00 an hour. He works on and off, as winter can be a cruel blow of the hammer to his usual routine.

When Ronald works, he works until six at night, at which point he drives the fifteen miles home from the construction site. He gets home, releases the family dog, an anorexic Rottweiler named Harold, feeds him the scraps of that night’s dinner–usually fried chicken bones from KFC–and steals a beer from the fridge and plops in front of the television and watches reruns of Star Trek until he passes out, drunk.

Bill often cries in the middle of the night, has spasms that contort his body in positions extremely uncomfortable for a six year old, has visions of the Devil stalking around his small bedroom with its circus elephant wallpaper.

When the cries begin at midnight, they do not wake Ronald from his alcohol induced slumber.

Rebecca was raised prominently Catholic in the cornfields of Kansas, and was trapped, her whole childhood, within a fierce matriarchy founded on heavy-handed religious doctrines, such as shouting the verses of the Bible aloud while having her bare back and buttocks whipped.

She married Ronald in 2009. It was the definition of a shotgun wedding; and she became pregnant with Bill in 2010, giving birth to him on December 14th, 2011, after a four week delay.

Rebecca is a nurse at the local hospital. She works the night shift, from 9:00 p.m to 5:00 in the morning; and when Rebecca comes home, she strips off her uniform and climbs into bed and recites her favorite verses of the Bible before heading to sleep.

When the cries begin at midnight, they do not wake Rebecca, due to her insistence on listening to the audiobook recording of the New Testament with her noise-blocking headphones.

Let’s take a closer look here:

Bill has had his case of schizophrenia for about as long as he has been alive. The Devil visions are frequent–they worry him to the point of clawing at his walls and knocking his head against his bedroom window.

This schizophrenia is heightened by the religious pressures of Rebecca, who, most of the time, has the right intentions, but is not in the right mind. An ideal evening to her is having both Ronald and Bill read out of their paperback copies of the Bible before dinnertime, shouting at them, threatening to whip them, if one verse is used out of place.

Of course, this frightens Bill; in fact, it frightens him so much that he has nowhere else to pour his emotions but outside, in the woods beside his house. On particularly tumultuous nights, he goes out to these woods and slits the throats of a few rabbits snug in a log, or, in the bushes. He hangs their carcasses on the limbs of the nearby trees and flaps their mouths to the tune of The Wheels On the Bus Go Round and Round; this occurs for a number of hours, neither Ronald nor Rebecca care or notice.

Inaction.

Ignorance.

Absence.

Consider what you have read so far. Consider Bill and Ronald and Rebecca individually, not as a wholesome family unit. Consider how each person contributes to one terrifying truth:

Something is wrong with Bill.

Take Ronald, the alcoholic who is responsible for the quickly foreclosing house. Does he know about this future? Undoubtedly. Will he do anything to prevent it? Unlikely.

Here we have bad social conditions, involving a house that is cleaned every few months, and which is in danger of slipping from its owner’s hands.

We also have an alcoholic. Ronald averages four to six beers a day; most of those hours are spent being angry at the world and those around him, specifically, Bill and Rebecca.

Let’s look back at those three words.

Inaction.

Ignorance.

Absence.

Ronald fits into all three of them. He refuses to act on the approaching closure of his house; he is blind to the sufferings of his six-year old child, Bill, who tells his teachers that the Devil has told him to do bad things; and he is off at work most of the day, but the time he is at home, he is unconscious.

Rebecca focuses on her Bible; she feels it her duty to ensure her religious rules are enforced from morning to night, the oppressive mental state of her son be damned. She is more of a mother to the strangers she treats at midnight, than she is to the child she should provide for, care for, and listen to.

Inaction.

Ignorance.

Absence.

She, too, fits into all three of them.

Why is this important? Why focus on the strange hobbies of a mentally disturbed child in a dysfunctional family?

The question we should be asking is, Why Not?

The bit I left out–the piece that ties this all together–lies in the future: Bill’s future.

See, by the time Bill turns 20, he is still living with his parents. No, he is not attending college, and, despite having a powerful enthusiasm for all things natural, as well as an above average IQ, he does not secure a job as a National Park Attendant.

His mother tells him it will take time away from his Bible studies.

At 22, then, Bill headlines newspapers around the country–

BILL SYKES CAUGHT, ACCUSED OF COMMITTING 23 MURDERS

His victims are all young women; however, there is nothing, not hair color, personality, or their names, tying them together, save that they are all nurses.

He strangles all of them.

In court, a few days after the release of the newspaper article, amid masses of reporters, even Bill’s own parents, all wondering why such a kind, harmless young man would commit such atrocities, the Judge asks Bill why he did it.

Bill answers, “The Devil told me to do it.”

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

 

 

Innocence Still Matters.

I’ve been upset about my innocence for a long time–you know, that look in your eyes that just screams inexperienced and optimistic; you haven’t hit the harsh realities of life yet, and instead you’re going along as if everything is doodlie-doo, happy times.

Now, I’m not saying I dislike that I’m innocent, only I am, in a way, aren’t I? Perhaps I’m really tired of people underestimating me, seeing me as a kid who doesn’t know what life is, when, truly, life is what you make of it.

Sure, sounds cliche, but it does have relevance. Life is never the same for anyone; there’s always going to be differences, just as there are no people exactly alike. My life so far has been life. These past eighteen years were not spent in a vacuum, and there is no Real World, once you leave school.

C’mon, people, the world is the world. Known that since friggin’ Galileo’s time, and even beyond then…yeah….

I am innocent. I will not deny it. But am I the lesser for it? No. Do I not have as full a grasp on life as others? Sure. When you’re eighteen, you don’t typically know much; however, you still know enough to be–well, you, and, hell, that’s all you have to be.

No one’s making the rules here.

You are you, and there’s not much to change that.

It seems, though, if someone has not gone through the ringer at least a few times, has not accomplished the necessary requirements attributed to being an adult, then they, or their voices, are not worth the time of day.

Take kids, for example, the people we want to keep innocent in this world–but, that’s it, isn’t it? No one wants to listen to kids, to see what insights they have to offer; and, in doing so, they are missing out on valuable perspectives that could well change the world.

Innocence, and age, for that matter, shouldn’t be this restricting factor, or an inquiring face to turn away; no, are you kidding? Both of them have importance–both of them are crucial to understanding what the hell all us humans are trying to accomplish in these lives of ours.

Everyone matters, not only a few, because to limit is to inhibit further knowledge.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

Under Construction

A Southpaw here,

Recently in my postings I have come across an uncomfortable feeling, that of staleness and a little bit of boredom–a thing which should not be happening if I am to continue this blog.

I still love posting things. I still love writing on my schedule.

The thing is–something needs to change.

I don’t like becoming bored with this blog; hell, it was started because I thought it was fun. And I want to keep that enjoyment; and if it means switching things around on the ol’ Southpaw Industries, then I will gladly do so.

They won’t be major changes; no, not at all–what they will be is needed. I will probably make it more appealing–the front page has become a little bit of an eyesore, to me, and the posts will be varied…more so than they are now.

It’ll be fun!

I am sorry if these changes make any of you reconsider following me–they won’t be too big anyway–but, I see this as a way of improving content and shifting to a higher grade of whatever-the-hell-I’m-trying-to-pull-off-by-writing-these-things.

I would love to hear opinions, though; if you feel you up to it, speak your mind.

And keep chugging on that Thought Train.

Think daily,

A Southpaw