Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Lying Angels

My mother named me Angelina-Jean, but some of you know me as AJ Soloman.  She named me Angelina because of her guardian angel and Jean because of her mother. A guardian angel saved her life when she fell through the ice at sixteen.

Mom would consult Calgary, the angel,  for all life decisions. She had a clear pointed crystal that hung on a delicate silver chain, and she would ask Calgary yes or no questions. For a  yes answer, the pendulum would swing in a circle. For a no answer it would swing back and forth. Mom would  ask should I try for that promotion at work? The pendulum swung back and forth. And all though she frowned at the answer, she believed it was for the best. Every time Mom asked,  her angel kept saying no. She worked twenty years at the same hotel as a housekeeper and believed until the moment she took her last breath  that God had a plan and guardian angels never lied and always pointed you in the right direction.

Two things happened when I was thirteen. I won the Philadelphia city-wide fiction contest for my age group and my mother presented me with my own pendant to consult  my own guardian angel. Teachers and other adults had said I was soo talented and I should be a writer.  I asked  my guardian angel, Catrella, every day will I be a successful writer. Sometimes I asked  should I be a writer? The pendulum always swung in a large circle.

A liberal arts degree and one craptastic job after another, I am now forty years old and my writing career is not existent. It’s rejection after rejection and a mountain of  bad reviews. I just couldn’t believe that this could be happening. And Catrella, my supposed guardian angel,  had lied to me all these years.

I went to a  real psychic she laughed at me and said I had no angel.   I am tired of being a pawn in “God’s” plan. There is no God and no guardian angel. All my life wasted away.

There is a man I know, a close friend of twenty years, he asked me time and time again to marry him.  He is rich and I  do cherish the time we spend together, I just don’t love him like that. In fact,  the idea of fucking him on our wedding night makes me nauseous.  I asked the crystal about him and it said no to him and yes for writing. Now, I am making my own choices.

I deleted my hard drive, millions of words gone. I put down the pen. Burned all the notebooks and rejections letters. How bad could it be? Being with him has got to be better than chasing a fantasy.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Primaries, Bernie Sanders and Beyond

I haven't talked much about politics lately. The entire internet is full of extremely biased left and right views  and those that walk in the middle do seem to be  invisible. I am glad primary season is for the most part over ( I know folks in DC still have to vote). Let's talk about primaries. You know the big parties and there are dozens of little parties. And if 2016 taught us anything it is this.... we definitely need to start changing how primaries are run. One thing is for certain the superdelegates and unbound delegates of the Democratic and Republican parties need to disappear.

If you really think about it, we don't vote for President, we don't even get to choose who we want for president. It's all delegates or the electoral college. We need to change that. You want to keep the delegates, so be it but get rid of those superdelegates.

And why does primary season last for six months but election day last one day? Caucuses are outdated and if anything excludes would be voters because of other commitments. Who makes up these rules? We need to talk about change, real change.

We should have a primary day or even a primary month, where all states and territories vote in an OPEN primary. That's right I said "open." It's time we start voting for the person and not the party. Sorry Iowa and New Hampshire, you should not set the stage for primary season.

Don't you think this election year would be a lot different if people could choose the candidate they wanted instead of choosing the default candidate because that person was the only one left on the ballot?

We need to demand to hear from a party that is not Republican or Democrat. Gary Johnson is the Libertarian candidate. He has some excellent beliefs and ideals, he will get to debate if he receives 15%  support. What the hell kind of rule is that? We should be presented ideas with the same ones we heard about for the last several decades.

Before moving on, I just want to say I am not against Bernie Sanders. And if you feel as though you need to call me names, or say I am stupid, uneducated, or whatever you feel then please do so. I will not inhibit first amendment rights. I believe in freedom of speech.

I had no idea who Bernie Sanders was before 2015. Who knew he spent all those years in congress?  I like some of Sanders plans. I have been a huge supporter for universal health care forever.

Our healthcare system is beyond repair. And it is a vicious cycle of greed. United Health cries because they are not posting over  400 billion dollars of profit. Why is healthcare so expensive? Is it drugs? Malpractice insurance? The desire to have the latest Mercedes?

Why is it I can get full coverage car insurance for less money per month than health insurance? Why would that same car insurance pay 20,000, 30,000 or more per claim? Why can I get dental and eye insurance for less than twenty bucks a month for a family but health insurance is not affordable- even before the ACA.  Why is life insurance so freaking cheap when you get a 100,000 policy which is probably the cost of several hospitalizations?

Universal healthcare is something Franklin D Roosevelt wanted as well. And I believe it will save money. I am working on a plan that I would like to introduce to my representatives in January that I think will help solve some problems.

Sanders also wants to raise the minimum wage and provide for maternity leave, close tax loop holes and lift the ceiling for FICO taxes, which will hopefully flood the Social Security confers.

These are good things, but something about him bothers me. Maybe it's not him, but maybe it's  the internet. He really seems to hate the wealthy. And sometimes the way he talks, he wants revolution. Like Russian Revolution, not American revolution. I agree- Mr Sanders things need to change.

I sit around and wonder- why did he run now? How come I never heard of him before now? A good strategy would have been starting his revolution years ago.   (I didn't know who Mitch McConnell was until he said they will not hold hearings for a new Supreme Court Justice. I am guessing he was not  in the news a lot so he had to do something).

Why is it Sanders went bonkers for debate prior to the New York primary but could care less about Pennsylvania, who had a lot of delegates to offer up. Instead he visits main campus Penn State.

From what I see, he loves the feeling of young people loving him. He talks about fervently about income equality and free college and gets the young people riled up and looking for a fight, to "fight the man" I guess.  He collects the disenfranchised and angry voters, much like Donald Trump. Does he tell you who to vote for in congress?

I am not saying education is not important because it is extremely important. But free college? I understand I will pay more taxes, unless you make less than 20K a year. How am I supposed to pay my student loans if I don't have much take home pay? At least some of you will get "free college" So there's that.

We need to figure out why college is expensive. There is nothing wrong with having some debt because of college. There is something wrong with having $30,000 worth of debt.  Even in the game of Life, you take a loan for a college. Just so you know, I have $43,000 student loan debt for about 5 years of education. I have student loan debt  from 15 years ago. On the bright side, they are consolidated and deferred right now. I can only imagine what I will owe after next year.

Bernie Sanders is taking his fight to the convention in Philly. And I say- more power to you.

What if he gets the nomination? And he becomes president? Things take time. Not all democrats agree with his ideas. What if he never gets anything done? Would it still be a conspiracy?

Remember, congress writes the bills, the president signs them or vetoes them. I don't think Bernie Sanders cares about anyone else in the democratic party and it doesn't really seem to matter who his band of disenfranchised, angry voters vote for  as long it's for him.

One thing all of us, regardless of party lines should make as a goal for 2017 is to get the national debt paid off. Of course, we can't come up with 19 trillion dollars in one year. But things have to be set in motion. Is it rumor or is it truth that the military has equipment that is not being used but they lack good equipment? We need to stop wasting money. We do need to close loopholes and impose taxes on capital gains. And before implementing new programs- we need to reign in this debt. This is astronomical. Doesn't the US government get a ton of tax money in, where does it go?

This has to be a priority because it will make us stronger and safer. We need to tell our congresspeople that they need to manage money smarter and better and pay down the debt.

So remember to vote in November even if Bernie is not the nominee because congress is important. And we, the voters,  have to make our voices heard in congress, they work for us, they represent us, Make sure they know that.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Hurricane Star

Experimental, visual poetry using emojis (or pictographs) and punctuation. Millennials rejoice!  This was both fun and challenging at the same time. I don't know if other poets wrote an emoji only poem, but I wanted to try it out.  I used Emoji Viewer and Bloom Diary apps (Windows 10) to make it. After creating the poem, I took a sreenshot and cropped it. Enjoy....

Friday, June 3, 2016

Humor Me While I Go Off to Rantville

The last three weeks, I ran a sale for my Etsy store and in a word- fail. Okay, I had one sale. So I suppose it was not a complete fail. I have ran sales before with no return, I think what made this one worse was I spent actual money on advertising on Facebook and on Etsy. I ran two different ad types on Facebook and had 13 clicks to my store but no purchases.

It is discouraging. I don't even know how to make my business better. Maybe my jewelry sucks. But I don't think so since I do very positive reviews on my sales (more than I do for my books). I have had my store for five years and had 40 sales, an average of 8 sales per year. I want to do better. I don't understand why I don't do better.

I am in competition with the world.

I don't pay myself a wage, not even minimum wage. I tried pricing my items the right way. I decided on minimum wage. And I kept notes of how long something would take me to make then I added approximate costs of materials. I did those with about 15 items and nothing sold. A year later, I wound dropping all the prices on those items. Make sure you know, I don't pay myself a wage.

My prices are reasonable. My items are unique. I value customer service and it has already screwed me over twice, but I still push the customer service. I charge one price for shipping and you can buy as much as you want and pay one price (notice that will eventually cut into my money). I don't make a profit off my store...

We are a country that does not make things, we are a country that buys things- things that are cheap and from China. And yet, at the same time, there are those who are screaming about the obscene profits corporations make while they buy their junk at Wal-Mart or some department store. Just because they are expensive doesn't mean it's worth anything more. And here I am selling quality for just as inexpensive because I got to keep my prices low to sell.

A couple of years ago, I went to Gabriel Brothers because they were having a sidewalk sale. You could get  a bag of jewelry for $5. This was perfect for me because I am upcycler/recycler in addition to making new things. There was this one necklace that was sold at Express and it was broken. MSRP was $40 and it was made in China. I took the rhinestones and made a new necklace and I have mine priced for half as much and I know it will last for a lot longer as well.

I have considered pushing the American made angle. But what good what would that do? No one wants American made items. How I see the world is everyone wants to be like everyone else and pay nothing for it all while protesting the way the world is.

Just so you know I am not a corporation. If you were to do the math, I am so far red, I am touching the center of the earth. Just so you know I am an American and I make jewelry. Just so you know I price way lower than I should and I honestly feel like I deserve to sell my items at a higher price.

You want to send a message to the big bad corporations, why not buy from Americans selling their wares online?

The more you buy from us little guys,  eventually we have to pay taxes.  The more you buy from us, maybe we could hire someone or spend our earnings in advertising or buying more supplies from other American companies. The more you buy from us, the more the Post Office, Fed Ex, and UPS make.

Final thought... you want the world to change? It starts with you. You make the decision to shop for your jewelry from me or Walmart. You make the choice to shop at Ikea or the local carpenter. Those people in DC will not change anything and they really don't care about you. So you want change, you want a revolution then it starts with you, all of us.

And I'm not going to  quit, I just have to figure out how to sell more on my own because no one else is going to help me. Like always, I have to do it on my own.