Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

My Photo
Name:
Location: Georgia, United States

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Rearrange

Sometimes life just rearranges itself on you.

You wake up one morning and everything is different. The people who were the closest to you in life are all gone. You aren't alone. There are still family members and friends to support you and keep you  from feeling that you're just by yourself. But it's not the same. And it never will be again.

Life is a tricky thing. You get too comfortable in it sometimes. Your home, the people you love, the mundane aspects of your daily routine, the highs and the lows, all get so familiar that you fall into the trap of thinking it will always be this way. Then, when the morning comes that you wake up and everything has changed, you're left with this uncomfortable realization that you are actually in control of very little. That scares you. 

What's even more scary is knowing that you have to go on, trying to make a new path for yourself, trying to find a new purpose for yourself as well. I've been here before. Twelve years ago when my grandmother died, I didn't know what to do with myself then either. Yet I had my parents to turn to for advice. My mother was someone I could talk to about almost anything. I was younger then and the life ahead of me seemed somehow more exciting than it does now. I remembered dreams I'd had as a child and it occurred to me that I could make them come true. So I set out to do just that. 

I wanted to be a writer. A professional writer. With the aid of the internet I got involved with writers groups online and it all seemed to take off from there. I started a web magazine that was very popular for a few years. I got to interview some very famous people and become friends with many of them in the process. Friends who knew a thing or two about making dreams come true and who were more than happy to share their knowledge with me. Five years and four books later I felt good about myself and where I had gone in life. 

Then my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She needed me. I was there for her like she'd always been for me. It meant giving up some of the things that I had achieved over the past few years. As her illness progressed, I began having some health issues of my own. A heart attack that required stent placement and then later a herniated disk in my back caused me to get depressed. I had stopped writing almost entirely by then. The world was going on around me and I was stuck in this place where my world revolved around my mother, my health, and my job. A little at a time, I lost every last piece of the life I made for myself in the years after my grandmother died. I was back to where I started... with almost no life. 

Life rearranged itself around me again thereafter. Both my parents were gone and I had back surgery. I was home with nothing to do but watch TV and I avoided thinking about the future by focusing on trivial things. I realized I'm not young anymore. I'm middle aged and I have health problems that require daily medications to manage. I have a job that isn't really a challenge anymore because I've been doing it for so long that I've learned what to expect and how to handle the upheavals that come with it. So what do I do now?

I'm too old for this, I tell myself. I don't have it in me to find a new purpose in my life, I think. It's too much work to get back to where I was as a writer before Mama got sick, I hear myself thinking. It'll be easier to just go to work, watch TV, eat, and wait on my turn to go back to the universe, echoes in my mind. 

But that isn't what I want to do. I want to have my life back. I still have friends who can help me find my way into the future. I'm financially secure. I have a chance now to travel to most of the places I've always wanted to go in the world. I can plan for my retirement without having to worry about being one of those little old people who has to work at Walmart because Social Security isn't enough for them to live on. I'm doing okay with my health right now. My back problems are pretty much resolved and I'm stable on my meds. My family members are all supportive of me. I'm not alone. I have myself and I have all the tools at my disposal that I need to make my life happen again. I just have to do it. 

Life just rearranged itself on me. Again. It's time to pick up and move on. Again. I have to do something with myself. Again. I'd hate to think that where I am now is all I'm going to get out of life.  And it doesn't have to be all I get. It's my choice, my decision. There are too many years left to waste.  Let's see if I have it in me to redefine me. Again. I think I do.

We'll see.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

What The USA IS... And What It IS NOT


The United States of America is a Constitutional Republic, modeled after the Roman Empire in many respects, and is not a Democracy in the true sense of the word. Democratic principles are applied, such as voting and the representation of states and regions and districts in Congress, but if we were a true Democracy there wouldn’t be any need for things like the Electoral College or the Equal Protection clause in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. By fashioning this nation as a Constitutional Republic, our Founding Fathers organized a country which was meant to protect and serve all of its citizens, not the majority of them, and certainly not select groups who would put their own beliefs and wants above their peers. Avoidance of majority rule and ensuring against the tyrannical influence of sects of the populace is why we are a Republic and not a Democracy.

With this knowledge allegedly taught to all Americans while we’re in grade school, I am once again at a loss when it comes to how many of my fellow Americans don’t seem to understand how our country is organized and why it was set up this way to begin with. All this hubbub over Same-Sex Marriage is, quite simply, ridiculous when you consider the nation we call home and the cornerstones of what it means to be an American. Extending the legal rights of marriage to LGBT couples is no different than Civil Rights is to Americans who are not Caucasian. In case anyone is unaware, in many states a person couldn’t marry someone of a different race until the 1970’s. It was the same argument then as it is now. Two consenting adults who love each other and wish to be married have a fundamental right to do so, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. The 14th Amendment guarantees it with the Equal Protection clause. “Life, liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” is an American right that we all are supposed to enjoy. And not just opposite sex couples who might be white and religious. Anyone who thinks otherwise is Un-American in the very fabric of the word. The Equal Protection clause is also why the majority cannot vote away anyone’s right to be married, or anything else. See, once again, in a Republic, a majority rule is not allowed to dictate the rights of others.

And why did our Founding Fathers create a nation based on the principles of a Constitutional Republic? Because they were sick and tired of being lorded over by a Monarchy that presumed to tell them how to live and what to believe and which taxed them mercilessly without representation, maintaining control through the instillation of fear. They wanted to live in a country where the government was by the people and for the people and where all Americans could be treated equally with the same rights applied to everyone. Yet here we are in the 21st Century still requiring the law to maintain our country in the manner in which it was set up to begin with because we have so many people who want the USA to be something that it is not.

Let’s talk about state’s rights for a moment. When the movement to abolish slavery began gaining steam in Washington, many of the southern states seceded from the Union in order to not only keep African Americans in slavery, but also because they felt their rights under their state constitutions gave them this freedom. The American Civil War that followed was not only fought to ensure the freedom of the slaves, but to also preserve the Union and to establish the sovereignty of the nation over the state. In other words, Federal law always supersedes state law. Do you know why? Because it is the duty of the Federal government to maintain this country as a Constitutional Republic, governed by the Constitution and its amendments, where no state can strip away a citizen’s rights because a majority decides that they can’t have equality. That, again, is Un-American in the very fabric of the word. This is why segregation was ultimately outlawed and why schools and universities were required to open their doors to anyone who wished to attend them. The same principles apply no matter what the situation may be. Americans are supposed to be equal to one another when it comes to the rights we enjoy as individual citizens of the United States of America.

Lastly, a Constitutional Republic also excludes the influence of religious doctrine in its government. Why? Because now, as then, there are so many differing religions and belief systems and values based upon the doctrines of these religions that it would be all too easy for one to have a majority over another. You wouldn’t expect Jewish Americans to be forced to live by Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist, or any other religion’s edicts, would you? Certainly not. Religion is a personal matter where one chooses his own path to ensure his own spirituality. It has no place in a government that represents free citizens in a nation where equality is supposed to be guaranteed to everyone. Most of the Founding Fathers were non-theists anyway. They wouldn’t have dreamed of setting up a government based on or including religious principles. Instead, they established Freedom of Religion so that everyone could worship as he or she chooses, or not worship at all. In this manner, individual equality is again guaranteed.

Now, to anyone reading this, here is where I want you to pay attention and pay attention good. I am appalled to see so many of my fellow Americans insisting that they are losing their liberties and having their rights infringed upon. By extending those same rights and liberties to LGBT Americans, they are sharing them and you are losing nothing. You still have the right marry, to worship in any manner you choose, to believe what you want to believe, to vote for whomever you wish to vote for, to speak your peace without recrimination from the government. In other words, you still have the right to live a life of freedom. And so does everyone else.

And to all those elected officials and clergy representatives and ordinary citizens who are encouraging their families and neighbors to ignore the law and do what they wish, there are still laws on the books regarding treason, obstruction of justice, civil disobedience, and inciting others to unlawful behavior. I have a feeling that by confusing the adherence to these laws with Freedom of Speech, there are going to be some very unhappy Americans who are going to find themselves behind bars, charged with and probably convicted of Un-American acts. Your Freedom of Speech does not include rebelling against the government. That was, is, and will always be a criminal act.

If you don’t like the principles by which the United States of America was founded, move to Canada. (Inside joke I wonder how many people will get.)

If you do like them, enjoy your freedom as an American citizen.

Peace out.
C

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Did You Know?

Did you know...
 
The very first Social Security check was issued on January 31, 1940 to Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont, in the amount of $22.54. Ms. Fuller died in January, 1975 at the age of 100, having collected more than $22,000 in benefits. Ironically, she'd only paid in a little over twenty-four dollars in taxes to Social Security during her last three years working as a legal secretary prior to her retirement.
 
Pretty impressive, I'd say.
 
C

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Issue of Marriage Equality

Hello, friends! I know, I know...I haven't blogged in a LONG time. To be perfectly honest, so much has gone on in the past couple years for my family and myself that I honestly lost the desire to write anything. Anything. It's been a hard road but it's one that has been a learning experience. Now, and for the past few months, with things settling down and me feeling more like myself, I have been getting that urge to write again. To express myself in the written word is something I've always treasured and have had some success in doing as well. So I'm back, for now, and hopefully to stay.
 
Marriage equality is a topic of which I've had some very strong opinions for the last few years. As of today, same sex couples can now wed in twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia. It's been a long time coming but the Supreme Court has finally begun settling the matter once and for all. The freedom to marry whomever one chooses is indeed a right. It is not a privilege for the religious. If it were, atheists wouldn't have been capable of getting married. This is, and has ultimately been deemed, a moot point.
 
I am quite perplexed by the arguments that religious groups and conservative Republicans keep giving about how allowing same sex marriage will enable some people, namely pedophiles, to claim their way of life as a right as well. It is mindboggling to me that there are people out there who can confuse the right of consenting adults who love each other to get married with the issue of children, who cannot under the American judicial system consent to sexual encounters, being victimized by adults who have questionable desires. I just can't quite make sense of that. The difference is too far apart between the two subjects to even consider. Consequently, I can only conclude that this argument is yet another tool being used by the Right to confuse the matter and hold up progress for those who are demanding equality.
 
Back in 2008, when California offered up Proposition 8 on its ballots, I remember having a discussion with my friend Danny on the matter. As a conservative Christian, he was understandably opposed to same sex marriage and felt that it was indeed a topic which could be settled by voters. I quite vividly recall telling him: "Wait until just one of these cases comes before the Supreme Court and there are going to be a lot of very disappointed opponents to this issue."
 
And I was right. The Supreme Court has a pretty good track record when it comes to fairly applying the law to all parties it represents. When circuit courts across the country began striking down same sex marriage bans as unconstitutional, as such bans prevent all Americans from rights such as their freedom of expression and the pursuit of happiness, the Supreme Court declined to hear arguments from states wishing to keep their bans in place. Effectively, SCOTUS said that the lower courts got it right and they had nothing to add on the matter. In the three weeks since their declination to hear these cases, the justices have cleared the way one time after another for same sex couples to marry as they choose. SCOTUS sent a powerful message with their initial decision.
 
What it boils down to is very simple. The religious or moral views of certain groups of Americans cannot infringe on the rights of others to exercise their own religious or moral views. You can't vote away the civil rights of those you don't agree with. If some people can marry at will then all people should have this same preference. You might not like it but you cannot stop it. I predict that within the next year same sex marriage will be legal in all fifty states and every US territory in the world.
 
I was very amused by the response of certain state governors and attorneys general after the SCOTUS ruling. Their defiant statements that they would "ignore" the Supreme Court's decision was ludicrous. I suppose they do have the right to go to jail for obstruction of justice, just as every American citizen has the right to marry the person of his or her choosing. North Carolina has already made its position clear on this matter. When a magistrate there refused to marry two men on religious principles, the state said that magistrates will enforce the law or be removed from office. One magistrate resigned, as was his right to do, just as the two men who were refused their civil rights have the freedom to marry.
 
Because it really is a matter of civil rights. It reminds me of the National Guard being mobilized to desegregate schools when states tried to defy the law in the sixties. Bigotry and prejudice are not tolerated in the eyes of the law. This matter is no different. People are what they are, no matter their color, nationality, creed, or sexual orientation, and they cannot be denied the same rights that others enjoy.
 
And for those who are still trying to argue that homosexuality is a choice, I always reply to them with one simple question. "When did you choose to be straight?" Shuts 'em up every time.
 
Marriage equality is here. And not just in the US. In countries all around the world, people are either already allowed or are being allowed to marry the partner of their choice and society doesn't mind. It is only those who feel that their religious or their moral views entitle them to decide how the rest of the world should behave who are up in arms over this. And they'll just have to learn to live with it. Society is not going to allow an injustice of this nature to continue any longer.

The absolute foolishness of the human condition never fails to surprise me.
 
And, as Walter Cronkite used to say every evening, that's the way it is.
 
Love,
C

Sunday, May 4, 2014

An Early Morning Walk

I went for a walk.
An early morning walk.
In the crisp cool air.
The beautiful sunshine.
The smell of freshly cut grass
And the singing of the birds
Kept me company.
To commune with myself.
To clear my mind.
To feel ready for the new day.
I could feel the beating of my heart.
The worries of life momentarily abated.
As I concentrated only on my stride
I knew that in these solitary sojourns
One can find himself
And feel at peace with himself
To the tune of each breath.
Inhale.
Exhale.
Just be.
I went for a walk.
An early morning walk.
And I felt...
Alive.

Carey Parrish
4 May 2014

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The 2014 Academy Awards - Final Predictions

It is Oscar night! After all the waiting and wondering, the questions will be answered in a few short hours and we will see who takes home a golden statue. Having seen the nominated films, followed the buzz around the nominees, and taken into account who walked away with a Golden Globe, etcetera, I have made my own predictions as to who will win and my final round of choices isn't that far off from my first ideas.

Best Picture: 12 Years A Slave
The story this film tells and the moral implications it imparts are just as profound and just as important in 2014 as they were when the book was originally published in the late 19th Century. The performances are strong and the whole enchilada sparkles with Best Picture potential. I think this one will upset American Hustle, which was my first pick for the award this year.
 
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity
It isn't often that the Best Picture and Best Director awards don't go hand in hand but with Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón skillfully combined the film's special effects with a cast that delivered fine performances amid a story that was both powerful and exciting. Cuarón's deft hand wove the whole thing together with a finesse that kept it from becoming a special effects jamboree.
 
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyer's Club
My original pick in this category was Bruce Dern for his performance in Nebraska even though McConaughey had the best performance of the lot. And this is why I've changed my prediction. The buzz around Mr. McConaughey is enviable and, again, his was the best job well done this year. He is the Best Actor and as such rightfully deserves the Oscar.
 
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine
My mind didn't change on this one. Cate Blanchett is at the head of the class in her category. Her performance in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine was superb. The buzz surrounding her has not waned either. She is well deserving of the award.
 
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto in Dallas Buyer's Club
After a few years away from the film industry, Jared Leto returned with a sizzling performance in an important movie and the results are top of the line. I originally felt that Leto was the best in this category but I found myself leaning more toward Michael Fassbender for his work in 12 Years A Slave because he is "owed" so to speak. But I've changed my tune on this one. Jared Leto should win and I believe he will.
 
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o in 12 Years A Slave
No change on this prediction either. Ms. Nyong'o was my original choice and she remains such. Her performance was splendid and she has been the odds on favorite, not to mention taking other honors along the way, and I do not foresee her walking away without the Oscar tonight.
 
Possible upsets include American Hustle (it did win the Golden Globe for Best Picture) and Gravity (if Cuarón prevails for Best Director and the typical formula holds true) in the Best Picture race. Steve McQueen could take the Best Director award for his work on 12 Years A Slave using the same rationale as Gravity and Cuarón. Bruce Dern might still be given the Best Actor Oscar as a "career award" win. Judi Dench just might upset Blanchett for Best Actress for her performance in Philomena, as could Amy Adams in American Hustle. Fassbender is still a real threat to Jared Leto in the Best Supporting Actor nod. Both Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle) and Julia Roberts (August: Osage County) could spell an upset for Nyong'o if the "second statue in a different category" rule comes into play this year.
 
It is impossible to be one hundred percent sure of anything where The Academy is concerned, because with them anything goes. They have been both predictable and surprising over the years and this time will likely be no different. I am never one to believe I will be right on every pick I make but for what it's worth this is my last round of predictions for this year's Oscars. We shall see, we shall see.
 
The 86th Academy Awards will be telecast on ABC beginning at 8:30 p.m. this evening. One thing I do feel safe in predicting is that a lot of switching back and forth between the Oscars and The Walking Dead will take place. LOL.
 
C

Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Review: Gifts Not Yet Given (And Other Tales of the Holidays) by Kergan Edwards-Stout

 
Following the success of his stunning debut novel, Songs For The New Depression, author Kergan Edwards-Stout returns with an anthology of short stories called Gifts Not Yet Given. And it is another page-turner from this talented scribe.
Each story is centered around a holiday but this is not a book for holiday reading only. The stories and settings run the gamut in terms of seasonal and personal meaning. The book is brimming with characters you’ll love not only because they’re so well written but also you’ll know someone in your own life who could be almost every one of these folks. While “A Doris Day Christmas” and “The Stepping Stone” are personal favorites contained herein, each entry is a masterpiece unto itself. The stories are written with a deft hand by an author who knows how to entertain his audience.
Very few writers can touch a reader’s heart but Kergan Edwards-Stout knows how to do just that. Gifts Not Yet Given easily jumped onto my top ten books read in the past year and it will remain a favored selection in my library. With so many writers competing in the literary world today, it takes a true author to rise above the pack, and Mr. Edwards-Stout is one of those few gifted storytellers.
5 Stars.
Buy the Print or Kindle Edition Here.
 
Visit Kergan Online Here.

C