Immigrant

what you were born intoMy friend immigrated from Pakistan when he was eleven. He might be thirty years or so old now. He has an accent. He looks Middle Eastern with large, dark brown eyes and glossy, black hair and a quick and ready smile. He prays to Allah every day facing Mecca, several times a day and quite visibly, when he is at work. He enjoys toilet humor (I make him laugh so hard he cries), playing with his 2-year old daughter, eating his wife’s amazing traditional cooking, and taking care of his extended family. He’s also a Pittsburgh Steelers fan living in the Baltimore area. Brave man.

I worry for him. With all the business about Daesh and the accusations of genocide and the threat of terrorism, I have that small thought in the back of my head that he will be harmed by the bigots and war mongers as well as the fear of otherwise kind and rational people. Fear has a tendency to blind the heart and mind to the truth and to the history that has been created over the course of years.

People who know my friend also know that he loves the United States. He is proud to be a citizen. He works hard, pays his taxes, and is active in his community. He cares for and respects his aging parents. He is a good friend, treats everyone with respect, and is very generous with his time and his resources. He is wise, compassionate, and just like the rest of us, he is flawed and beautifully human.

He also enjoys the traditions of his country of origin. He saw wisdom in his parents’ desire to select a wife for him. He explained the process to me, how the woman or the man could refuse, and how the family supported the couple when hard times hit, which in his opinion increased the chances of marital success. He asked me how many love match marriages have stood the test of time. Mine hadn’t, but he wasn’t suggesting that I should try his way. He just asked me to think about what was important to me and to go from there. It was a breakthrough conversation.

So this is my request to everyone who reads this post. Judge people by their actions. Your experiences with the person should be the barometer by which you determine to continue association with them or not. If you don’t know someone, regardless of color or culture or creed, don’t be hasty to pigeon hole them on first sight and react. Take a step back, gather your awareness, and give yourself a moment to be in the moment. Unless they’re pointing a gun at you or have obviously malicious intent, they are just another person trying to make a living and hoping to find a bit of peace and happiness throughout the day.

Peace be with you. Blessed Be. As-salamu alaykum. Namaste. Shalom. Peace exists in the hearts that live it.

2014 © iokirkwood.com “Immigrant.” All rights reserved.

savedpicture-33.jpgIn between bouts of writing for metaldescent.com, blogging, and banging her head, I.O. Kirkwood is the author of The Needless series, “Subatomic Revolt” in Mike Lynch’s No Revolution Is Too Big series and the short story “The White Carpet,” a finalist in the Scribes Valley Publishing Fiction Contest in 2013.

Why White Men Might Be Pissed Off

I’m just taking a stab in the dark here, but I think I might know why white men might be pissed off—at EVERYBODY, including other white men.

Imagine this scenario:

You are told that you are the root of all that is evil in the world—sexual objectification, racism, oppression, economic inequality, and every other –ism, –ion, and -ity you can imagine. When you can’t see it because you are also marginalized by a ruling class that happens to have the same colored skin and secondary sex characteristics as you, you are further subjected to the contempt of the people around you.

It doesn’t matter that you are kind to everyone you meet and give them respect regardless. It doesn’t matter that you’re willing to hear another’s point of view as long as they don’t objectify or oppress you. You’re a white man and you have the power to change these things.

angry white male

NOT. I’m not buying this crap that white men are the root of all evil anymore. I am a feminist and that means I want equality and respect for EVERYONE. I know which demographic is perpetuating the lie. I know that all of us are responsible for our own awareness. Just because I recognize that a few wealthy, white males are actively perpetuating this systematic oppression of EVERYONE ELSE, I’m not given the license to slander all men with white skin.

White men do not have the power to change these things unless they join the rest of us: black, brown, red, yellow, female and bleeding freaking rainbows. Blaming others for something they had no hand in dreaming divides them from us. It gives those who truly want to defeat us the power to do so.

See what this lovely white man has to say. He has identified the problem beautifully:

America’s White Male Problem

We are destroying our ties to each other with blame. Several white men I’ve spoken to have commented on how they feel marginalized and useless, and it stems from the idea that they are somehow empowered to change what is happening and should do so immediately. These white men are just as disenfranchised as the rest of us. This privilege is mostly myth, perpetuated only by the media and how we respond to it.

And just to show you what I’m talking about, about how all of us suffer because we are constantly blaming and judging each other by standards we didn’t even create, check out this article:

Defining A Modern Masculinity

I am raising two emotionally literate young men and what has surprised me is the anger they feel. Fortunately, I’ve given them permission to constructively express this anger at home. The outside world is brutal not just to people of color or women or homosexuals, but to just about EVERYBODY. There are very few people on the face of this spinning planet who have not been harmed by the damage we do to each other on a daily basis.

bikini rainbow

This is the article that started my rant:

The Actual Difference Between Women Who Are Hot And Who Are Beautiful

What man is going to read this rant and feel empowered to see the beauty of women? Does she have valid point about women’s beauty? Absolutely, but this article has painted men as the ugly creatures when its true intent is to empower women in their own beauty. Are there ugly creatures like the men this article has described? Absolutely, but they are few and far between, though most unfortunately vocal in their opinions. Since these kinds of men react out of a deep seated sense of fear of losing their man-card, the real key to avoiding such ugly creatures is to love yourself and know when to walk away.

This article’s anger is every bit as valid as the anger white men feel. This author has every right to express her rage at how things are and to demand change. I just wish she had done it in a way that empowered EVERYONE. That’s the true sign of being comfortable in your skin—of being beautiful. You take full responsibility for how you experience the world.

We are all beautiful, amazing human beings with different talents and capacities. I want to live in a world where we build each other up. I want to live in a world where we compassionately and constructively become the change we want to see.

What are your thoughts on -isms, -ions, an – ities? Hit me up in the comments below.

©2014 iokirkwood.com “Why White Men Might Be Pissed Off” All rights reserved.

savedpicture-33.jpgIn between bouts of writing for metaldescent.com, blogging, and banging her head, I.O. Kirkwood is the author of “Subatomic Revolt” in Mike Lynch’s No Revolution Is Too Big series and the short story “The White Carpet,” a finalist in the Scribes Valley Publishing Fiction Contest in 2013.

Change (in the House of [Butter] Flies)

Change-Quotes

I keep hearing people who love metal music telling me that it bores them these days. It’s not the same. The market is oversaturated with Djent or Metalcore or [put overdone subgenre here]. Good news is, I’ve heard this complaint before in other genres and they’ve survived and thrived after the fact.

I have a way of approaching metal music that has nothing to do with tradition and “how things used to be.” I’m open minded because I don’t hold any preconceived notions of how a genre is supposed to sound. I understand that there are genres and subgenres, but it’s like saying this human is brown and that human is pink; therefore, they are fundamentally different species. They aren’t but that’s how humans tend to think.

I watched a change in you
It’s like you never had wings
Now you feel so alive
I watched you change
~”Change (in the House of Flies)” | Deftones | White Pony

I know that I can’t stand it when something I enjoy is discontinued or the formula is altered. Most of the times, it’s for the worst, but everything evolves. Try to remember that as something transition, we may find ourselves witnessing the chrysalis.

chrysalis

A chrysalis is neither the caterpillar nor the butterfly. It doesn’t look like it’s doing anything special on the outside, but inside magic is happening. Think of all the bands you’ve enjoyed and there is usually a “cocoon” of an album in there somewhere as they transition from the new band to watch into a long time player like Dream Theater or Tool.

Change is a condition of innovation. Music goes through slumps where even I despair of finding something fresh and engaging. Music also has mind-melting bursts of creativity.  I’ve learned to take the good with the bad. A slump is just a marker that something amazing is about to break free and take flight.

©2014 iokirkwood.com “Change (in the House of [Butter] Flies” All rights reserved.

savedpicture-33.jpgIn between bouts of writing for metaldescent.com, blogging, and banging her head, I.O. Kirkwood is the author of “Subatomic Revolt” in Mike Lynch’s No Revolution Is Too Big series and the short story “The White Carpet,” a finalist in the Scribes Valley Publishing Fiction Contest in 2013.

My Sweet Shadow, To You I Look No More

I had talked about metal music and recalling unpleasant memories in an earlier post. Wouldn’t you know it, I had the most vivid, controlled recall of my life a few days ago. I was alone, almost as if the part of my mind that controlled access to those memories had read the post, and I was fully aware.

As the memories unfolded, I expected my soul to cringe. I expected to die of mortification or to turn into a psychopathic killer that police would shoot in the middle of the street if I didn’t off myself first. I expected to disintegrate into dust or burst into flames.

Guess what?

I think it’s obvious none of those things happened. I started to laugh, actually. I laughed at the things that had crippled me for so long. I started to sing. In the middle of the night. I banged my head. I raised the horns. I danced with joy.

I sang the song of my people:

 

…Tamed with confidence of a brighter future
I found a flame in the burnt out ashes… burn out, burn out!
Fueled, these new shores burn, dark past lies cold
Shadow, my sweet shadow, to you I look no more…

–“My Sweet Shadow,” In Flames, from Soundtrack To Your Escape

 

I’m free.

Every time I think about it, I start to cry. Happy tears.

I’m fucking free and I am on fire!

 

Copyright © 2014 iokirkwood.com. “My Sweet Shadow, To You I Look No More” by I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved.

Current Work(s) In Progress

blog-hop-button.jpgHaving a Sanguine writer’s personality, I’ve discovered that I must have multiple writing projects going on at the same time or I will despair of ever completing anything. Though I am a dramatic and accomplished story teller, I am easily bored with the nuts and bolts of writing and I can be derailed if I hit a snag in the writing process (why won’t this character die???).

Find out what your writer’s temperament is here.

A sanguine temperament can make completing stories—difficult. I’ve learned  a few things that promise to help me reach my goal of consistently producing finished works.

1. Diversify: this means it’s okay to have more than one project going on at a time. Each project has its own virtual planning book. If I get stuck on a project and lose my zest, I will mark where I left off, close that book, and open another one.

2. Compress. Instead of trying to write out a novel over the course of a year, I’ve taken to writing short stories. Eventually I can use them as the foundation for a novel.

3. Limit. I’ve been taking on projects that have deadlines and defined parameters. Sometimes, when the sky is the limit, I’ll get lost in the wide, blue yonder. Limits force me to honor my end of the bargain and harnesses my creative energy.

 

ignoring passion

I am currently working on the following:

1. Ruth Snyder’s blog hop which falls under number 3. I have enjoyed writing for this so much that I’m going to search for another blog hop.

2. A short story that plays on the Ballad of Tam Lin which falls under number 2.

3. A romance novel.

4. Another series through my publisher that has me working closely with several other authors to create an origin short story. I can’t wait to start this!

5. Just in case I get stuck, I’ll write a review of something: a book, album, or show to pull me out of a rut. These are like instant gratification bonuses for me.

6. Last but not least, I’m looking to get some of my poetry published. I need to polish it up and start submitting.

I know this looks ambitious to some and it certainly isn’t a work style that suits everyone. I wanted to share how I work to see if anyone else works this way and possibly offer a few pointers on getting the most out of my writer’s temperament.

Tell me about your writer’s personality in the comments. Stay calm and keep writing.

Copyright © 2014 iokirkwood.com. “Current Work(s) In Progress” by I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved.

Rage With the Beast

I’ve been asking myself why metal music makes me shiver. Particular songs just make my skin prickle and bring such intense, all-over pleasure that it has caused me to question some fundamental understandings about myself.

I asked my son about this and he told me, “You’re getting in touch with your rage.” He should know. I think he inherited mine in utero.

angry

My son says his beast looks like a tall, roaring flame with a mouth full of teeth. Mine looks more like this. You can dress it up, but you can’t take it anywhere.

I agree that metal, especially extreme metal, can be comparable to shaving unhappy bears and setting them loose on an innocent population. But why do I love it so much? Before it had made me so uncomfortable that I ignored it.

All music is an expression of the human condition. Yes, even the vapid boy bands with their bubble gum pop riffs and saccharine lyrics express a human condition whether I agree with said condition or not. Based on this premise, I followed the threads backwards.

From an early age, I remember fear. I remember helplessness. I remember not having the power to say “no” though I screamed it in my mind. I remember pain. I remember rage. I remember crying so much that it seemed that all I tasted were tears.

I do not remember the actual events. My mind has suppressed them so successfully that only once in a blue moon will I have a complete recall. The recall is hellish.

dont pray for easy

See, I ran from my past like a tri-athlete There were years when I forgot what it was like to cry because I hated the taste and the sensation. I laughed at the most inappropriate times. Verbal arguments were fought with a desperation and viciousness that left my opponents stunned. I was ready to swing whenever I felt remotely threatened. Until I went to therapy. Until the first recall.

It’s never convenient to recall. The recall doesn’t happen while I’m sitting at home alone or with a trained therapist. The recall doesn’t care if I’m at work or if I’m at the grocery store. I am helpless in the face of it—frozen—as my awareness is transported to a  brutal moment of physical degradation in another place and time. Sometimes I am three years old. Sometimes I am in middle school. Always, I am young and I am helpless.

During a recall I receive a quantum packet of FML in about thirty seconds. No lube. No consideration for whether there are spectators or not. No “thank you” afterwards.

At first I thought it was because I was in therapy. But when I had reached a point where therapy had done what it could, including medication for an incapacitating anxiety disorder that rendered me agoraphobic for three months, I realized that I needed to take control of my past.

wired to suffer

I started by asking for tears. In 2009 I cried de Nile River. That was when my love for heavy metal truly blossomed. All the old standbys from my adolescence came into play: Sabbath, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Metallica and some newer, angrier hard rock/heavy metal acts like Godsmack, Alice in Chains, Black Label Society, Chevelle, Mastodon and QOTSA got their time. Anything that talked about the rage and the helplessness, the establishment and the insanity.

I realized that the music was a natural release valve for all the pent up rage that boiled inside of me. What I didn’t realize until five months ago was that the above mentioned music only scraped the surface.

I have October 8, 2013 marked as a turning point. I went to my first all extreme metal show. Screams and growls mostly. Blast beats a requirement.

At this show were a number of thrash metal bands, three of which stood out for me. The first was my son’s band Xstrophy and I go to almost every show now because they have opened up a whole new world for me. The second was Exemptus just because they have a sheer energy that engages me on a visceral level. The third was Battlecross.

If you’re friends with me on FaceBook, you know that this band is my all time favorite thrash metal band. It isn’t because the music is phenomenal. It isn’t that they are just all around great guys who know how to put on an amazing show. Though the aforementioned certainly contributed, what made them special is that their music helped me communicate with my Beast.

worst day

I wish I had started that young…

For the first time, I could get in touch with my rage and it didn’t scare the crap out of me. Together, my Beast and I could thrash and wrestle and scream and growl, and let me tell you, it feels freakin’ incredible. No one gets hurt, least of all me, and I come out grinning like a fiend.

The happy side effect is that instead of getting bludgeoned by total recall, my rage is feeding me the feelings in small doses. Instead of going catatonic, I get to step back and examine the pain, the helplessness, and the fear from a place of empowerment. I never expected something as extreme as, well, extreme metal to be so therapeutic. From In Flames to Meshuggah to After the Burial to All Shall Perish, I am discovering a whole new world inside of me where the things that go “grrr” in the night are my allies. \m/

Copyright © 2014 iokirkwood.com. “Rage With the Beast” by I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved.

Genre of Choice: Paranormal Fantasy & Horror

blog-hop-buttonEven as a small child, I was fascinated by the forbidden. I was the geek in the corner of the room with her nose in a tome of The Tales of the Brothers Grimm. Even with the sanitized endings, I knew the stories told of gruesome things. The story of Bluebeard was my favorite.

Bluebeard is the shadow in us all. One of many illustratons at http://bit.ly/1cnhIXw.

My favorite authors are Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Karen Marie Moning, Jim Butcher, and Kevin Hearne. They all incorporate elements of the monstrous and the forbidden with the ethereal seductiveness of the Fairy Tale. They tell of death, destruction, and gruesome things happening in an alternate history from the one in which I live. So close and yet so far away.

A deep part of me yearns for the magic of the Fairy Tale while the part of me that has seen the ugliness of humanity knows that the gruesome is just beneath the surface. The genre explores themes of acceptance, good v. evil, the beauty v. the beast, and loyalty v. betrayal. The action never stops and the characters are gritty and powerful.

When I grow up, I hope to produce epic works in the genre I love to read. That doesn’t mean I will. Sometimes what I love to read does not come out in what I write. There is a part of me that balks when I ask the question, “How can I make my protagonist suffer even more?” Hopefully, I will outgrow this situational compassion and destroy worlds.

Copyright © 2014 iokirkwood.com. “Genre of Choice: Paranormal Fantasy & Horror” by I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved.