Stink, Stank, Stunk
In 1957, Dr. Suess brought an iconic character into our world when he created, The Grinch. Later, that simple children’s book was turned into an animated feature with Thurl Ravenscroft, the Voice of Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger, using his deep bass to sing one of my favorite Christmas jingles. I also use it for my dad's ringtone, but that's another story. In my opinion, The Grinch’s theme song also gave us the perfect three word catchphrase for the abhorrent year of 2020.
Stink! Stank! Stunk!
It is my nature to try and find the positive. That’s how this blog got started. It was a way to share some humor and what I called “Positive CJ Thoughts”. This year I’ve been hard-pressed to find much to be positive about. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking 2020 has truly been awful. I’ve struggled to write, even though I was able to publish two books this year in the Five Points Series, Redemption’s Road and Sovereign Chance.
The end of the year is fast approaching, thank heaven above, so I need to collect my thoughts and concentrate on finding even the tiniest pinpoints of light in a very dark period of our history. Let’s address the elephant in the room that stomped over everything in 2020, the coronavirus, and this year's deadly version of it, Covid-19.
In my fifty-two years, I can only go back to the overwhelming effects of the 9-11 attacks and maybe Katrina. I see a world forever changed by the people we’ve lost and the immeasurable, long-term economic disaster. I’ve lost fellow emergency service workers. Friends whose names that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I'm subscribed to a website that announces each firefighter and emergency medical worker's death. I've read far too many announcements with names who have passed from this awful virus. Stink, stank, stunk in the very worst of ways.
The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time. For many, there is an empty chair where a loved one should be.
I also have friends and acquaintances that have had to close their businesses. Their bills continue to roll in while the income has come to a complete halt.
My niece and nephews have had two school years completely interrupted. There are major issues that come with virtual and distance learning in a rural state with unpredictable or nonexistent broadband internet. I worry about how much they are actually learning even as we try to fill in the gaps. None of it is good news, none of it. Stink, stank, stunk.
In all this, what can I find as positive? Even in all the selfishness of those who have refused to physically distance themselves or wear a mask, there have been incredible acts of bravery and kindness. How do you begin to thank the nurses, doctors, hospital technicians, janitors, laundry personnel, and general staff who have been the long-term heroes of this pandemic? These are the people that, at great risk to themselves, have cared for the sick and the dying. Frontline emergency service workers are used to being shorthanded and less than adequately protected as they are thick of it. I've seen it in my 28-year career all too frequently. This year, hospital workers are being called to duty as never before. They are stretched as thin as they can be, making decisions based on who has the best chance of survival and who, no matter what interventions are taken, will not make it.
More thanks go out to the essential workers, those who have kept the grocery and retail stores open, the mail and packages coming, the water flowing, the electricity on, the food available, and the host of other things that happen without a second thought. Many businesses have shifted operations to make masks, PPE, hand sanitizers, ventillators, and many other things to keep people safe and fill the gaps of an overwhelmed system.
Some very bright points of light are those authors and narrators who have written and produced amazing novels and audiobooks that helped make an escape from the hell of 2020 for consumers like me. There were many mornings going to work I could take a few minutes and lose myself in a story that had nothing to do with Covid-19. I hope the books that I have written have been able to do that for others.
Another point of light in my personal life is my retirement. In April of 1993, I accepted an appointment as a full-time professional firefighter. On Dec 31st, 2020 after almost 28 years of service, I retired. Things were changing in the city and it seemed like the right time to go. Nothing in my life has ever been as challenging, rewarding, and frustrating. I left hoping I cleared a path wide enough for another female to someday walk. My smoke alarm program is in question but I’m working on finding a new home for it since I won’t have access to the same resources I have in the past. The prospects are good, so I am very hopeful.
The other elephant in the room is the political unrest in the United States of America. The LGBTIA+ community and the United States lost a giant in spirit and deed this year. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, champion for women and the marginalized, passed away at the age of 87.
I watched day after day as the election went on and on and on. Finally, with great elation, Biden reached the 270 electoral college votes. I’m also very hopeful about the incoming United States President and Vice President. For the first time, a female, Kamala Harris, a powerful woman of color, will hold one of the highest two seats in our government. The appointments announced for President Biden’s administration more closely resembles societies make up more than ever before. I make no apologies that I haven’t been a fan of the current administration. I’ve seen enough of the destructiveness that I pray for something very different. I am as hopeful for the future as I’ve been in the last four years. We have a tough road ahead to undo much of the harm that has been done.
What has not been a shining moment is watching multiple cities be on fire from political protests, some incited by the opposition in an attempt to subvert the core message. Black lives DO Matter. We all must do our part to work toward racial equality. Being a person of color should not be a hindrance to anything, ever. The political unrest has driven so-called patriots to the streets in paramilitary gear with automated weapons. We've watched the news showing a teenager running through the streets of Kenosha in camouflage with an automatic rifle in his hands unconcerned of his actions as the bullets from his weapon ended the life of two people. He walked right past police officers after he'd done it. I believe, had his skin been anything but white, the outcome of that night would have been considerably different. I may be wrong but I doubt it.
I've watched as individuals with guns stormed statehouses as they sought to intimidate lawmakers, others that plotted to kidnap governors and massacre political leaders. I've also watched a political adoration for white supremacy groups, something I couldn’t have imagined from any other president in my lifetime. I can only hope that in 2021 we see the unrest calm and a bright new future on the horizon.
Now for some author stuff. I’ve been given tons of advice from many people, more than once, to not pay attention to negative reviews. This one, I need to address.
“I wish authors would leave political viewpoints out of books. In one sentence this author insulted Christians and the current administration of govt.”
This felt very much to me like Fox News personality Laura Ingraham telling Lebron James… "Keep the political comments to yourselves. ... Shut up and dribble."
Interesting that the reviewer felt I insulted Christians. I do take a bit of umbrage to that since I am one and have been my entire life.
Here’s the offending passage.
“They haven’t tried to foster since the jackass who stirred this all up was elected president. It’s amazing how far we’ve come and with a single election, how far we’ve been set back.”
First, it was more than one sentence. Yes, I called the current president a jackass and said that he’s set back LGBTQIA+ plus rights. Look at how many challenges have been brought forth and how many individual states have attacked those rights since he took office. He also appointed conservative supreme court justices that could roll back hard-fought ground. I have many family and friends who are conservative and vote Republican. Many of them share my view of the current administration.
Second, the Christianity comment was directed at those who are less than Christ-like.
“Christians my ass. I’ve never been very religious, and if hating people who live differently than you do is what’s required, I never will be.”
Insulting Christians? Perhaps we should look at what is considered the two greatest commandments in the Bible. Matthew 22:36-40 New International Version - “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I won’t apologize for feeling those who constantly refer to those in the LGBTQIA+ community abominations are less than. Again, I refer back to the second of the greatest commandments. Hating someone for who they love is not Christianity to me. I have no plans to just shut up and dribble.
So, what’s up next for author CJ Murphy? It’s time for me to set up a schedule to get back on track writing. There are stories I need to tell and get out of my head and onto the page. I write best in the morning when my brain is the least scattered. I won’t miss the daily 4:00 am alarm or the 100-mile round trip commute. That I am sure of.
I am very hopeful to continue the Five Point Series. There are two more books (at least) planned that I want to release in 2021. I’m currently working on book 5, House of Refuge, which is a return to my rock and roll pastor, Rhebekka Deklan, and her wife Naomi. If possible and safe, I’m hoping to attend GCLS Orlando. That will also be dependent on my continued retirement status or if my loving wife kicks me out into the world of the gainfully employed again. Time will tell. I'm pretty proud of the stories I've had published.
So, my friends, it's the first day of 2021. There is so much promise in front of us. I hope you can see the pinpoints of light for the coming year and say with gusto that
2020 Stink! Stank! Stunk!
You can find my latest offering, Sovereign Chance at the following retail outlets.