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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Feminist State of Mind

Feminism is a state of mind.  It is about freedom, power, and independence.  It doesn’t mean you can’t be girlie, or be cute, or pink, or wear lipstick or heels.  It doesn’t mean you can’t cook, or clean, or iron your husband’s clothes or be a stay at home mom.  It means that you can be what ever you want, so long as you realize that you are in charge of yourself.  Nobody tells you what to do.  No stereotypes.  No orders.  Only free will.  That is feminism, to me.

I embarked on a journey when I decided to write about Alexis Cruz, a fictional character in my upcoming book, not yet titled. This journey, although not yet complete, has gotten me to think a lot about equality and the struggle that women in particular have in our “modern” society.  I find myself now admitting that I most definitely did not have the level of understanding on the topic that I like to think I had.

I have always considered myself a modern guy that looks to reason, science, and philosophy to understand the world around me.  I blame the Aquarius in me for that, as I tend to over analyze things as well.  Still, the relationships that people have, men and women, are both complex and simple.  I have spent a great deal of time studying the character of an individual, and over time, one comes to realize that each person’s individual motivations move them to act and think the way they do.  

It’s such a simple concept, yet we have been over-complicating it and screwing it all up forever.  Sometimes it’s as simple as feeling hungry or tired; or wanting to do the right thing like telling the truth or helping a stranger in need.  Other times it begins with something basic, like viewing another person as an equal, because you know the right thing is not to assume someone is inferior because they are physically weaker, smaller, or of different skin color, or of a different sex.  The instinct for someone to make that initial assumption and then assume mental power over the other is the basis for inequality and the perpetuation of the deepest of character flaws that some of us have.

I mention it because these simple motivations are at the core of the problems -and the solutions- that I see in today’s feminist fight.  When Alexis came to be, my first idea was to model her mind and actions after my own wife’s, who to me, is the most forward thinking and powerful woman that I have ever known.  She was a perfect foundation for me; but as I delved deeper into Alexis’ character and what motivated her, I found myself becoming more and more confused about her and what decisions she would make.  I thought for a time, that I was not enough of a feminist to write such a powerful character.  She in fact, was becoming more than I could handle. 

I laugh now, because the idea seems ridiculous.  She was not overwhelming me, per se, but she had become so complex that the clear lines of definitive feminism didn’t work for me.  Feminism was not a clear definition, I came to realize.  It was not what the media would have me believe. It was not just a strong woman working in a man’s corporate world.  It was not a woman unafraid to speak her mind.  It was not an uber-liberal progressive that went to college and executed cutting-edge journalism to an audience of millions.  I should say, it was not just that.  It was those things and more.  Feminism was also mothers, teachers, stay at home moms, students, farmers, artists, singers and dancers and much, much more.

It was when I realized this that I also realized that feminism is deep at the core of our character and beliefs.  Feminism is equality, at its core.  It doesn’t even matter if I am a man or a woman, because if at my core I believe that women are equal, then equality has been achieved and the ideal of feminism no longer needs to exist.  Since our core belief system is what motivates us to act and think, in terms of equality, how can value and morality have a gender? A man can be weak, as can a woman.  A man can be shrewd, aggressive, and arrogant, as can a woman.  None of these traits have anything to do with the position a man holds in life, whether it be a farmer, lawyer, politician, or laid-off construction worker.  Same goes for a woman, regardless of her working role in society. 

This is all most definitely a change from how I viewed the topic many moons ago.  I see it as an issue still for women.  There are a lot of women out there trying to get out of this game of cutting each other down. At the core of the weaker person’s character is jealousy, shallowness, materialism and image.  The competition of it all makes people want to continuously outdo each other in order to “win” something that doesn’t exist.  The typical outcome is that women cut each other down.  It is sad to see, because it is often times over a man, which is the ultimate slap in the face to the feminists. There is no power in the weakness of lying and backstabbing because it will always come back to you.  Victims will never forget.  And it is weak because it means that you don’t have the courage to admit that you are ruthless or that you have made a mistake.  It’s a negative and ugly game, and if the energy spent on it were instead focused on making yourself a better person, you’d get real power.

It is power over self that defines feminism.  A strong man that works a career and focuses on making himself a better person has a lot of power.  So does a woman. Be independent.  Be free to follow your dreams and do something great, whether that is to run a marathon, climb a mountain, lose weight, raise great kids, earn a degree, or rise to the top of a fortune 500 company.  All of those things represent feminism, or masculinism (like that one?), if they are for you and by you.  Do it all for yourself, not for any one else.  Do it all with dignity and without cheating, and you will find power and independence. That is feminism.  That is masculinism.  Now get out there and kick some ass!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Phoebe Zephyr

I wrote about Phoebe’s Meadow, as a dedication and promise to my dog, Phoebe Zephyr, who has now passed on. The abrupt and tragic passing was due to the suddenly rapid deterioration of her liver, which had a shunt. Her passing is the single most devastating thing to happen to me in my life.

She woke up very sick on a Wednesday morning before work. My wife called me, frantic, and I rushed to meet them at the vet. The news was bad. The doctors at the vet that we’d been taking her to for her whole life said that Phoebe wanted to die, and that her liver was the problem. They suggested putting her down right on the spot, but we refused. There was no way that we could accept that outcome at that moment.

Phoebe was beyond just a special dog to us. My wife and I married young, at twenty two years old. She never wanted children, and even though I did, I loved her so much that I agreed that if it was our destiny to never have children, then I would be ok with it, and I promised to never resent her for it. We got Phoebe a few years later, as a six week old puppy.

We probably didn’t realize it at the time, but because we agreed not to have kids, Phoebe became that kid. She brought us closer and gave us something to pour our hearts into. As more time passed, we treated Phoebe more like a kid, taking her everywhere with us. We pioneered driving in the car with her hanging out of the driver’s side window.  She was always on my lap. We took her to kids parties, we bought her clothes every week, and we went to places just because they were dog friendly. We even stopped going to movie theatres and instead opted for the drive-ins because we could all be together. We lived like that for almost ten years. We called her our dogter.

People often say that they love their dogs, and I’m sure they do. Few though, are truly dog people. Phoebe was literally the center of our universe. When we fought, we talked about visitation rights, and who would get full custody. When we fought, Phoebe would get sad and sulk in the corner.  Our feelings were very real, and she, Phoebe, knew it. This was why we could not accept what the vet told us.

We went to another vet, visiting a person that we knew personally. There are many reasons that we had not taken her there in the first place, but the main reason was because she was not a vet when we started off with Phoebe and her numerous health issues. We thought that we trusted her original vet. We turned out to have made a deadly mistake.

The new vet, our friend, told us that we should have been treating the liver shunt with medication the entire time. It was what ultimately killed her. The toxins were too much and they attacked her brain. We were too sad to be livid, but as more time goes by, that truth, that our first vet did not prescribe something that was explained to us as “routine”, absolutely kills me. It means that Phoebe did not have to die yet.

I don’t know what I can do yet. Nothing will bring my Phoebe back. She died in my arms from a lethal injection one day after her 11th birthday. It was devastating. I am still devastated by it. We gave her almost eleven years of love as the center of our lives. Sadly, during the past few months of her life, she fell from that special place, as the birth of our daughter changed our entire dynamic.

Our daughter demanded our full attention. I wish though, that I knew what was happening with Phoebe. I feel so much guilt and regret that she did not spend her last few months and weeks with more attention from me. It shreds my heart knowing that I was ignoring her and unable to yet find balance in my life with her place set. My life has been out of balance. I could not balanced the new baby, working out, writing, working, eating, taking care of my Phoebe, or anything else.

Maybe it’s foolish of me to think that I could have saved her, but I think that too. Maybe I would have acted faster, or actually noticed something wrong. I don’t know. It’s too late now. She is gone forever, and her last days were the worst. We tried to save her with liver shunt medication and other medications. We went through a week of hope and despair. Our emotions shot up with happiness, thinking that each thing we tried might work, and then they fell hard when she did not improve. It was unbearable. I went through bouts of heavy crying during her last week with us. I knew a few days before she left that she was already gone. I cried hard then. Her mind was gone.

She came back only once, many days before she died, to give my wife and I “family kissies”, which was when we all three put our faces together and kissed. She licked our faces like crazy. I am so thankful for that.  I hope it is the last thing that she remembered.  She was gone for good after that. She wouldn’t eat. We force fed her with feeding tube, but she wouldn’t eat on her own. On the night before we put her down, she locked herself in a corner and cried. I could not take it. The next day she died in my arms -her favorite place to be. Her passing was peaceful and painless.

Rest in peace my baby dogter. Wait for us in the meadow. We will be with you soon. We will all be together again. Until then, we carry you with us always. You will always be our first baby. I love you.

Phoebe Zephyr Huerta, Aug 19, 2001 – Aug 18, 2012

Back from the Sadness

Back from the sadness. I’m back from a hiatus of sorts. Life happens to us all, and this past year, life, and death, has been in full force. My best friend, Phoebe, left us and passed into the next realm. She was my dog. Our dog. I have a lot to say about her, so I will be writing about her soon.

 On top of that, my baby daughter was born. She’s my first child. Our first child. I’ve written about her a lot already. Through it all, I have found myself both lost and found; both depleted and filled; both dragged through the bottom of the deepest of the dark sea floor, and at times, finding myself floating blissfully high in the clouds closest to heaven. I am both full of love, and full of emptiness.

 I find myself here though. I have finally published my fiction novel, L.A. Ninja. This work was actually done almost two years ago, but because of the publishing process (self-publishing) and how real life actually works, it has taken me this long to get it out. This marks a significant milestone for me, as this piece of work got more of my soul than any other at that time. Not to discredit or downplay One-Eighty, which was an important piece to me for certain reasons, but L.A. Ninja has like a hundred times the passion from me. My subsequent work, currently untitled, has also gotten a lot more passion from me, and it has taken me in a wildly new direction. More to come about that one too.

 Anyhow, the few initial reviews for L.A. Ninja have been awesome so far, so I hope it continues. It's available on (link here: LA Ninja ) and on The approval for Apple devices, Sony E-readers, and Barnes and Noble should be coming any day. It’s feels good to be back to writing here on the blog too. More to come soon.