Today, a man set off two smoke bombs in Brooklyn. Opened fire and spit out 33 rounds into passengers commuting to work. After the train was cleared, police found three extended ammunition magazines, consumer-grade fireworks, a hatchet and a jug of gasoline. Twenty people were injured, some critically. It is amazing no one was killed.
This incident comes as violent crimes across the city and MTA system rise. A lot of people compared what happened today to 9/11. Early reports were that it might have been an act of domestic terrorism so it really makes sense to be reminded of that awful day.
Of course, it’s something I think about often now that I am back. Growing up on Long Island, I used the World Trade Center as my point of reference to get around the city. To this day, I do that and have gotten lost more times than I would like to admit. It’s kind of pathetic to get lost in your home city.
The current crime wave hitting the city and the attack this morning reminds me of the New York City I knew when I was a kid. It was seedy and dangerous. Then, Mayor David Dinkins and Disney remade the place. I don’t think we will go back to those times but it is hard to see where we are headed.
Today, I had an amazing day walking around Stony Brook. I worked out of a cafe in the Village. I got more creative writing done than I have all year.
Yet, looking at the blue sky, I thought of Ukraine. Myanmar. The Uyghurs in China. Paul Rusesabagina falsely imprisoned in Rwanda.
Why are someone’s rights to own a gun more important than mine to stay alive? Someone told me that it was because of the Second Amendment. So the Second Amendment trumps the Declaration of Independence? Don’t I have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”
I want to think something has happened to us. Something has happened to make us hate each other so much. But whatever hatred we are seeing now it’s not new. It’s just been hidden. As long as people we had oppressed since 1619 stayed ok with it — or rather, didn’t get “uppity,” things were good. Sure we subjected millions with slavery for hundreds of years and then the Jim Crow laws for another hundred and continue to use systems made by white men to keep white men in power. Even if people in the system are not racist, it doesn’t matter because the system is. Every single white person in America benefits from white privilege.
A person I went to junior high school with commented on a post about BLM protesters with this, “We will treat you like humans when you act like humans.”When you can look at another person and think you have the right to dictate what is and is not human behavior, you are proving my point. This person is not alone in thinking that. This is the attitude we have to change.
Over the weekend, a friend gave me a book written by an acquaintance of his. Before I go into what I thought about it, writing a book is a major undertaking. I have nothing but respect for people who follow through with this. This particular book was self-published. I see no issue there. There was a day when that was a bad thing but NOT TO ME.
This book broke my heart on just about every level. I had to look up the plot online because there is so much exposition and it was so poorly constructed I couldn’t follow it. As a lover of the English language, it felt like that author took it, beat the pulp out of it, microwaved it, ripped it up, and beat it some more. Rather than make this into a rant only about how bad this book is, I am going to offer my suggestions on basic stuff:
Alyson’s writing tips:
They are lazy. Use a better verb. There are rare times when you can use one but the fewer you use, the tighter your writing will be.
Stick with one name per character. For example; if you have a character named Anthony Rebbi, call him Anthony or Tony but don’t go back and forth. Bonus: use their full name when you first mention them and then whichever name you like for the rest of the book/story.
Don’t be redundant. If your character has an annoying habit, for example, just show them doing whatever they do. For example, you have a character that swears a lot. You don’t need to write, “Kelly likes to swear.” Just write her dialogue with a lot of curses. SHOW DON’T TELL!
Learn the rules of basic punctuation.
Quotation marks are not a way to add emphasis. You can do that by using the bold or italic fomatting options. Quotation marks used for emphasis give the reader the wrong impression. For example, I spent the weekend acting in a murder mystery. Another actor played my “husband.” See that shows he wasn’t really my husband. If you see a sign for “sushi,” it is probably not real sushi. If you need more information on quotation marks, check this out.
When using quotation marks, be careful where you put commas and periods. It is “I told you I hate dentists,” she said. “They have always scared me.” Note the period and comma sit inside the quotation marks, not after.
Use spell check. This is the easiest thing you can do to make your writing clearer. As a bonus, you can get a grammar check which will keep you from having sentences that omit words. This is a common issue that makes your prose make little sense. You can also use Grammarly. Great (and free!) service.
Get your dialogue right. Can you see what is wrong here?
Shelley answered the phone, “Hello she said. Do you want pizza?” You can approach this in a few ways but that is not one of them. This can be, “Hello,” she said. “Do you want pizza?” It can be in the course of a total conversaion and the whole “she said” can be dopped. Including it mid dialogue as was in the book, is just wrong.
“I was thinking we should go to Montauk” he said. You need a comma after Montauk and before the second quotation mark.
Use an editor. I was emailing back and forth with a journalist who admitted that due to budget cuts, he did all of his editing and made mistakes as a result. If you are writing on your own like that, you really need to use Grammarly. If you are looking to publish a book, or something else that matters to you, get someone who is experienced at editing. You may have a best friend who “gets you” but that person is crucial for your success (or failure) here.
Stick with one verb tense. Unless you are going back and forth with flashbacks or maybe images from the future, you need to be consistent here.
Writing resources that rock:
The Bible of writing in the English language is Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.
On Writing by Stephen King is a personal favorite.
Wow. Before my hernia surgery on January 21, I was expecting to go in on Friday, undergo an operation that would take about an hour, and be home in the afternoon. That was NOT even close to what happened. Instead, the surgery was like three hours and I went home four days later.
It has taken me nearly seven weeks to get back to feeling “normal.” I was sleeping like 14 hours a day for about a month. And because my mood is directly impacted by my energy level, I have been a bit depressed since this all started. My sense of self-worth is often determined by how productive I am and it’s hard to be productive when you are sleeping for 14 hours a day so I was kind of depressed from that. I am never goingto have energy again. Of course, that’s not true but if you had asked me about that a week or two a go, I would have said that you are nuts.
The good news is I am feeling nearly normal now.
Random things I have been thinking about…
Of course, I have been watching what’s happening in Ukraine and my heart is with the people of that nation but there are a lot of hours in the day and I think about other things from time to time. Here are some of the things on my mind this week:
What did God actually sacrifice when Jesus was killed? Now, I am not a Christian and maybe I just feel like the idea that Jesus Christ is our savior is pounded into me from all sides, all of time, and that has me iritated. Maybe it is that this never occured to me before but — he came back to life, according to the myth, a few days later. So, if you really believe all of this nonsense, shouldn’t you see that being dead for three days isn’t a big deal? Please tweet me to tell me what you think (@AlysonHChadwick)
How do Republicans who voted against convicting Trump in his first impeachment trial sleep at night? Back in the days of Trump, President Zelensky begged him for defensive weapons and we all know now that Trump was all only if you investigate Joe Biden… Now these same fuckheads senators are all about how much they support Ukraine. Really? When did that start? I know that in the pre-Trump world, support for Ukraine was not partisan.
We think Congress can get nothing done but two weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine started, a bill is ready to be passed imposing a ban on Russian oil. Thirteen months ago, the Myanmar military took over that nation and has killed about 1,400 protesters since then. In the spring of 2021, Congress began talking about a Burma Bill. It was introduced in October. That was five months ago. Why the wait? Every day, the junta kills its own people. If you want to tell your member of Congress to support this, please click here.
I used to love snow. It was pretty and fun to play in and sometimes, I got the day off from school! Now I am not such a fan. Back then, I didn’t have to deal with the roads or shoveling or, well, shoveling is the worst part.
One winter, when I was a little kid, the house next to my grandmother’s (where I live now) was used as a mental hospital of sorts. A psychiatrist had her patients in the mansion next to my house. One of the patients got a knife and stabbed another. The injured man ran to our house and rang the bell. I am not sure what happened then. What I do know is that I was not allowed outside and when we left the house I had to go out the back and walk to Bennett Lane to leave because it had snowed and the snow in front of the house was bloody from the stabbing next door.
I didn’t know about any of this then. Judy, my grandmother told me about it all much, much later.
The Internet’s a crazy place…
I was looking for info on the house next to mine when I found this. My mom was in the Peace Corps back in the early 1960s. I had never seen this before today. Crazy!
Got plans for tonight?
If you are on Long Island and ready to have some fun, you won’t want to miss this show.
Tonight, January 8 at 9:00 pm (doors open at 8:00), Round Two Pub in Ronkonkoma!